By Selen Temizer
Turkey is rejecting Russian media claims that the Turkish military’s operation along the Syrian border will be limited to Afrin, Foreign Ministry sources said Monday.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said Turkey has made no such commitment to Russia.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that after Afrin has been cleared of terrorists, Turkey will expand its operations to other critical areas.
“Turkey’s measures against the YPG/PKK cannot be limited to Afrin alone. There is also Manbij and east of the Euphrates River,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Vancouver, Canada.
The sources also rebuffed claims that Operation Olive Branch would hurt the Syrian peace process, saying that on the contrary, it will benefit the process.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria's northwestern Afrin region.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said the "utmost importance" is being put on not harming any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.
'No terrorists at Sochi meeting'
Also on Monday, Turkey reiterated its call from a preparatory meeting in Sochi last week that the terror group PYD/PKK should not attend the Jan. 30 Syria National Dialogue Congress in the Russian Black Sea resort, calling it is a red line, the same sources said.
Turkey’s call was also accepted by the other guarantor countries, Russia and Iran, the sources added.
Sochi is the designated venue of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress set for Jan. 29-30.
The congress is expected to be attended by all sectors of Syrian society except for terror groups.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.