Operation in Syria will continue with full determination: Erdoğan

President Erdoğan, while mentioning the Syria operation, suggests a coalition forces' operation in Iraq could be indispensable for freeing Mosul

News Service Yeni Şafak
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a Jarabulus-like operation could free the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Daesh terror group.

Speaking to Journalists accompanying him during the return flight after the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, the Turkish President said the coalition forces should demonstrate their presence in northern Iraq and Syria, otherwise the terror groups “will occupy the vacuum.”

Citing the Turkish military-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) operation in northern Syria, Erdoğan said that a similar operation could free the Iraqi city of Mosul.

He said the military operation, Euphrates Shield, which began with the freeing of the town of Jarabulus from Daesh, was continuing with a southward thrust, with important advances toward al-Rai and Manbij.

"With our military support to moderate opposition groups, significant progress has been made," said the president.

Erdoğan said the opposition fighters currently fighting against Daesh were those who benefitted from Turkey's train-and-equip program. He added that a total of 1,400 moderate opposition fighters who were trained by Turkey are currently fighting in northern Syria.

The support of Turkish artillery and the bombing campaign by the anti-DAESH coalition countries ensured the fighters succeeded in pushing back the terrorist group from border cities, freeing dozens of villages including the strategic city of Jarabulus.

First Al-Bab, then Manbij

The next target of the Operation Euphrates Shield would be Daesh-held Al-Bab city, the president said adding the second target would be the Manbij city currently under control of PYD/PKK terrorists supported by the U.S.

He reiterated that PYD/PKK should pull back to the east of the Euphrates River, evacuating Manbij as the U.S. agreed previously.

The U.S. authority said the terror group had already evacuated the city, but Ankara and the local sources said PYD/PKK terrorists are still in Manbij.

“If they leave the city, then we don't have any problem there,” Erdoğan said indicating that Turkey-backed FSA fighters could capture the city without a clash.

US' discrepancy over Turkish-trained Arab fighters

Erdoğan said the U.S. had refused Turkey's initial proposal to free Manbij with trained Arab fighters, as the city was over 90 percent Arab.

Despite this, the U.S. attempted to highlight PYD/PKK terrorists, but “we refused it and demanded them to evacuate the city,” Erdoğan noted.

He added that Washington had rejected Ankara's proposals, accusing that it would cause a delay of two to three months.

FSA moves toward al-Rai, while Daesh moves toward al-Bab

"With logistic support from the Turkish military, opposition fighters have made some headway toward al-Rai and now are moving eastward,” Erdoğan underlined the recent success in anti-Daesh fight.

“Daesh, which was forced to vacate Jarabulus, is on its way to al-Bab. Naturally, Daesh's most crucial headquarters is Raqqa. Obama especially wants to work together concerning Raqqa. We also indicated that there won't be any inconvenience from our aspect,” Erdoğan said.

The safe zone area

The areas freed from Daesh in northern Syria could be used for relocating Syrian refugees in Turkey, he said adding that refugee flows from the war-torn country stopped after the operation Euphrates Shield.

"Since then, the people of northern Syria are more self-confident. The people who live in the region are culturally very close to us. This gives us the opportunity to build true accommodations, rather than camps in the region."

Erdoğan reiterated his idea of establishing a safe-zone across the border in northern Syria, underlining that world leaders had not done anything despite making a deal on the issue.

"The same topic was raised during last year's G20 summit in Antalya, but I need to unfortunately note that nothing has been done since then."

Cease-fire proposed for the Eid holiday

While describing his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdoğan said he raised the concern about the ongoing situation in Aleppo, proposing both leaders for an immediate ceasefire deal in the second largest city of the country.

Foreign ministers of the countries are scheduled to meet to announce the truce that could start before the Eid al-Adha.

"The cease-fire will hopefully begin before the Eid al-Adha festival starting next Monday. As soon as the fighting stops, the Turkish Red Crescent will start delivering food, medicine, clothes and toys for children. Putin said the cease-fire could be secured within days."

Gülen's extradition

Erdoğan touched upon the extradition of Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), who was the mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt, saying that Turkish-U.S. relations mainly depend on Washington's approach on FETÖ and PYD.

"Our citizens are asking how a friendly country such as the U.S. can shelter him. That's what I told Obama and said that they needed to expedite Gülen's extradition or at least incarcerate him so that the Turkish people can turn around and say that something is being done."

He indicated the issue would be discussed in detail during his visit to the U.S. to join the UN General Assembly meeting next month.


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