President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday ruled out the presence of YPG/PKK terrorists from any future solution to Syria where conflict persists.
Addressing a news conference prior to his departure for Russia, the Turkish president said: "YPG/PKK terrorists have no place in the future of Syria."
Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss the future of Syria. Moscow, one of the main stakeholders in the lingering Syrian conflict, is providing the Bashar al-Assad regime military support.
“Turkey and Russia agree on every point of the fight against terrorism,” Erdogan said.
“We will discuss the steps to be taken to end the presence of PKK/PYD/YPG in areas where Syrian regime elements exist,” he added.
He went on to say that Turkey's operation in northern Syria neutralized 775 YPG/PKK terrorists. Also, seven Turkish troops, 79 Turkey-backed Syrian National Army troops and 20 civilians were martyred.
The successful operation aimed at establishing peace in the region has cleared an area of 2,200 square kilometers of terrorists and 160 settlements, he added.
Ankara and the U.S. have agreed on a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria, where Turkey wants to accommodate more than 3 million refugees it is currently hosting.
Some 700 to 800 terrorists withdrew from the safe zone and 1,200 to 1,300 are planning to retreat, Erdogan said.
"We are tracking them down," he said.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause its Syria operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone. The pause ends on Tuesday evening.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
Regarding a question on French President Emmanuel Macron’s meeting with Putin on extending the 120-hour pause, Erdogan said he has not received a proposal on the issue.
“Macron discusses these issues with terrorists,” Erdogan said.
“He must have chosen to indirectly deliver us the terrorists’ proposal,” he added.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.
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