Turkey, World, Middle East

Erdogan rejects French offer of talks with terror group

Turkish president asks France: Who are you to talk about mediation between Turkey and terror group?

Sorwar Alam,Cansu Dikme   | 30.03.2018
Erdogan rejects French offer of talks with terror group Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s provincial chairmen meeting at party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on March 30, 2018. ( Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Handout - Anadolu Agency )

Ankara

By Cansu Dikme and Sorwar Alam

ANKARA

The offer of France to mediate between Turkey and the PYD/PKK-led SDF terror group in Syria exceeds its limit, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Speaking at the provincial leaders’ meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in capital Ankara, Erdogan said: “If the remark [by the France presidency] that ‘we can be a mediator between Turkey and SDF’ is true, it far exceeds the limit of the person who says that.

“Who are you to talk about mediation between Turkey and a terror group?”

Erdogan rejected any scope for negotiations with terror groups, saying Turkey’s fight against terrorism would continue resolutely like the ongoing Turkish military operation in northwestern Syria.

In Thursday's statement, the Elysee Palace said French President Emmanuel Macron recalled “France’s commitment against the PKK and its commitment to the security of Turkey” during a meeting with a PYD/PKK-led SDF delegation.

However, as Turkey has documented, the PYD/PKK and SDF actually are the Syrian branches of the terrorist PKK, recognized by Turkey, France, and the EU as a terrorist group.

Macron also claimed the SDF had “no operational link with this terrorist group” -- meaning the PKK -- adding that "a dialogue could be established between the SDF and Turkey with the assistance of France and the international community".

But according to Ankara, the SDF is dominated by PYD/PKK forces.

The Turkish president termed the hosting of terror group members at the French presidency as “nothing but a hostile expression against Turkey”.

He said France now had no right to complain about any kind of terror groups, terrorists and their terror activities.

He reiterated that the SDF was the same as the PKK/PYD/YPG terror groups, underlining that a change in the name of the groups would not change Turkey’s stance against them.

He called on Europe to not play tricks with Turkey by changing the name of terrorist groups in Syria.

“You are trying to cheat us with these [name changes]. Sorry to say but we know the basis of all of them [terror groups]…We have all the details, including their addresses.

“We know them, even if you change their names every 24 hours.”

In its 30-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, and Ankara has warned against international actors cooperating with such groups as the PYD/PKK, YPG/PKK, and SDF/PKK, as they are just the PKK under different names. 

Operations in Syria, Iraq

About the ongoing Turkish military operation in northwestern Syria, Erdogan said 3,800 terrorists had been neutralized since the launch of Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20.

The operation aims to eliminate the PKK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terrorists from Afrin region.

He repeated Ankara's resolve to clear Turkish borders of terrorists.

"We have started necessary preparation to clear northern Syrian areas towards the Iraqi border," he said as he mentioned the Syrian cities of Ayn al-Arab, Tel Abyad and Rasulayn.

He also said Turkish forces could launch counterterrorism operation in northern Iraq’s Sinjar "suddenly".

The PKK first established a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 on the pretext that it was “protecting” the local Ezidi community from the Daesh terrorist group.

The Turkish president also offered the Iraqi government the option to launch a joint military operation against the terror group, noting that Sinjar had become an alternative to Qandil, the so-called headquarters of the PKK terror group.  

Fight against FETO

Erdogan also reiterated the vow to pursue the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- the network behind the deadly defeated coup in Turkey in 2016 -- across the world.

"Recently, our National Intelligence Organization brought six senior FETO representatives in the Balkans back to Turkey in cooperation with Kosovo intelligence, and they handed them to our security organization,” he said.

“As we said: ‘They will escape, we will pursue’, wherever they are,” the president added.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary. 


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