Erdoğan: We will clear our entire Syrian border of terror

Erdoğan: We will clear our entire Syrian border of terror

President says counterterrorism operation will ‘continue until the last terrorist is neutralized’

News Service Yeni Şafak

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan evaluated Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch during his address to mukhtars, the heads of Turkish villages and neighborhoods, at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara on Thursday.

“We will clear our entire Syrian border of terror, as well as eliminate terror threats coming from Iraq. We will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized,” Erdoğan said.

Operation Olive Branch was initiated on Jan. 20 in Afrin to establish security and stability, eliminate PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terrorists, and save locals from their oppression and cruelty.

“Our troops are advancing despite treacherous traps. To date, 1,028 terrorists have been neutralized,” Erdoğan said.

The president strongly rejected the call of Turkey's main opposition leader to establish contact with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

“He says: 'Sit on a table with Assad and discuss this issue'," Erdoğan said referring to remarks by Republican People's Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

"What will we talk about to a murderer who has killed 1 million of his citizens. The Syrian people are important to us. We aim to enable the 3.5 million Syrians living in Turkey who say they want to return to their homes to be able to do so,” he added.

On Tuesday, in his address to his party workers, Kılıçdaroğlu called on the government to establish contact with the Assad regime to resolve the conflict in Syria.

“We enabled 135,000 of our Syrian brothers and sisters to return to their homes as a result of Operation Euphrates Shield. We took control of 2,000 square kilometers including al-Rai, Jarabulus and al-Bab, enabling 135,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey to return to their own lands," Erdoğan said.

"We want to do the same in Afrin. We will resolve the Afrin issue and do the same for Idlib too to enable our refugee brothers and sisters to return to their homes. Surely, we will not keep 3.5 million [Syrians] here [in Turkey] forever. After all, they want to return to their own lands as soon as possible," he added.

In the wide-ranging Euphrates Shield Operation launched in August 2016, the Free Syrian Army -- with the support of the Turkish army -- had cleared 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of land along the Turkish-Syrian border of terrorist elements.


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