Turkey to rid northern Syria of terror groups, says foreign minister

Turkey to rid northern Syria of terror groups, says foreign minister

US, Russia also responsible for attacks by YPG/PKK on Turkey: Cavusoglu

News Service AA

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday said the PKK, and its Syrian offshoot YPG, are targeting Turkey and the government is not going to watch the developments as a mere spectator.

He made the remarks at a joint press conference in Turkey's capital Ankara with Denis Moncada Colindres, the minister of foreign affairs of Nicaragua.

“Turkey will do whatever it takes to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria,” Cavusoglu said, referring to the YPG/PKK, which repeatedly targets Turkish forces in the region.

Two Turkish special operation police officers were recently killed in northern Syria when the terror group struck an armed vehicle with a guided missile.

The minister said the YPG/PKK has begun targeting Turkish territories just like it did before Ankara launched large-scale military operations in the region.

According to the minister, the average rocket-firing range of YPG/PKK toward Turkish territory is around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).

Ankara, following military operations in Syria, reached agreements with Moscow and Washington who assured to push terror elements 30km back into the south, away from the Turkish borderline, he added.

“Russia and the US are also responsible for YPG/PKK attacks on Turkey as they have not fulfilled their promises,” the minister said.

"Now that they did not keep their word, the terrorists still have a presence there and have intensified attacks (on Turkey), what we need is to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps," the minister said, referring to Turkey's readiness to take initiative, if need be, as seen in previous military campaigns in the region.

Cavusoglu also accused the US of being "insincere" in its condemnation of terror attacks on Turkish elements, noting that the US-supplied weapons to the terror group and trained its militants in the first place.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

- Afghanistan

Afghanistan is in need of humanitarian assistance, especially ahead of the coming winter, the minister said, adding that Turkey has been providing support in this regard and it has recently dispatched food aid of 33 tons with the help of the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) and the state-run aid agency TIKA.

He went on to note that the Afghan administration was not able to pay the salaries at the moment, which was the case with the previous government and an engagement with the country was essential so that the country would not collapse.

The threat of terrorism and influx of migration would be triggered in Afghanistan if the system collapsed or existing problems deepened, he warned, noting that there were around 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country already and a quarter of this figure emerged this year.

He also underlined that Turkey has encouraged the Taliban to be inclusive to all ethnic groups in the country so that stability would thrive in the war-weary Afghanistan and a group of foreign ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members, including Turkey, were planning to visit the country.

- Ties with Nicaragua

Turkey attaches great importance to its relations with Latin American countries, and ties with regional countries have been a hot item on the Turkish agenda for the past few days as Cavusoglu said he had recently been in contact with various counterparts, including those in Venezuela, Guatemala, and Haiti.

Cavusoglu’s meeting with his Nicaraguan counterpart Colindres focused on bilateral ties as well as regional issues.

The interest of the Ankara government in the region of Latin America has borne fruits as well, according to Cavusoglu, who said the trade volume expanded sharply in the past period, from $0.9 billion to $10.5 billion in 2020, and this trend was ongoing despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He underlined that Turkey welcomed the reconciliation process in Nicaragua, and said the coming elections in November would hopefully be a turning point for the country’s democracy.

The Turkish foreign minister further noted that the sanctions would not be an effective way to deal with troubles in Nicaragua as they usually do nothing more than targeting the common people of countries slapped with sanctions.

“Whether it be Russia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, or any other country, we believe that the sanctions would get (any country) anywhere,” he said, adding that the international community should focus on solving problems through honest mediation.

Colindres, for his part, said the meeting went quite well and relations with Turkey had always been friendly and constructive, noting that bilateral ties with Turkey were based on mutual understanding.

According to Colindres, the two focused on projects, agreements, and possible steps to be taken in the future and they exchanged views on Turkey's investment in Nicaragua, cooperation in construction, agriculture, and technology as well as loans and experience-sharing.

He also noted that Nicaragua was working on opening an embassy in Ankara but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a pause in this regard, but his country was determined to open the embassy eventually and Turkey would open its own in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.


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