'PKK/YPG will be buried in its own trenches in Manbij'
National defense minister says Turkey's terror operations to continue in northern Iraq
The PKK/PYD/YPG terror group should know that they would be buried in their own trenches in Syria's Manbij region, Turkey's national defense minister said on Thursday.
"The terror group is digging ditches in Manbij as they have done in Afrin, despite promises made for PKK/PYD/YPG's withdrawal from Manbij," Hulusi Akar told lawmakers in the planning and budget commission at the parliament.
"The terror group [YPG/PKK] should know that it will be buried in the trenches it has dug," he said.
Akar added that Turkey still faces terror threats as Iraqi and Kurdish regional governments have not taken effective steps against PKK in northern Iraq.
"In this regard, our operations will continue until the terror threat from Iraqi territories is defeated," said Akar.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region in the northeast of Aleppo province in northern Syria.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
Akar also said that Turkey dismissed a total of 15,153 army personnel over their links to Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) since the defeated coup attempt in 2016, of whom 323 were reinstated following dismissal.
According to the Turkish government, FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Since the failed coup, operations have been ongoing in the military, police and judiciary as well as in state institutions across the country to arrest suspects with alleged links to FETÖ.
Turkey, guarantor of peace in Cyprus island
Akar said that Turkey would never allow any step or fait accompli in Cyprus, Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.
"Our interlocutors should know that any project without Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the Aegean and the Mediterranean will not be successful," said Akar.
Akar also called on the actors in the eastern Mediterranean region to stop provocation that "will put the region at risk".
On Oct. 18, the Turkish navy prevented a Greek frigate from interfering in the activity of the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, a Turkish seismic and drilling vessel working in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The activity, which had been announced by Turkish authorities, met with Greek interference.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Akar stressed that Turkish forces would continue to protect Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots' rights in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
"Turkish Armed Forces will continue to be the guarantor of peace and security in Cyprus island in accordance with international warranty and alliance agreements," he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. collapsing in 2017.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the talks' failure, also faulting the European Union for admitting Cyprus as a divided island into the union in 2004 after Greek Cypriot voters rejected a peace deal.
On the purchase of S-400, Akar said: "We have reached a certain point in the process for the supplying of S-400 systems from the Russian Federation in order to meet our urgent air defense system needs as soon as possible."
"With these systems which are expected to be delivered in 2019, our country will have gained a significant air defense talent," he added.