Turkey's defense minister, military chief, and top army commander on Thursday inspected troops near the border in northern Syria, the site of Turkey’s anti-terror Operation Peace Spring.
“Nothing is finished yet here, anything could happen,” National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told soldiers in Tal Abyad, Syria, urging them to stand ready.
Akar inspected the troops along with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler and Land Forces Commander Umit Dundar.
Akar criticized the lack of international recognition of Turkey’s longstanding efforts against Daesh/ISIS terrorists, saying: “It is a blind ignorance and stubbornness to fail to notice Turkey's fight against Daesh/ISIS.”
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is the only army that fought Daesh/ISIS directly, said Akar.
“With Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey neutralized more than 3,000 Daesh/ISIS terrorists in northern Syria and about 700 in northern Iraq,” he added, referring to a 2016-2017 operation.
Foreign media claims that Turkey is using chemical weapons in its ongoing anti-terror operation in northern Syria are baseless, he added.
“The Turkish Armed Forces never use chemical weapons. There is no concept, doctrine, or training on this subject,” said Akar.
Akar also reiterated that Turkey will not allow the formation of a terror corridor along its border.
Ankara on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorist YPG/PKK elements from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
On Oct. 22, Turkey and Russia reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria, and security forces from Turkey and Russia would conduct joint patrols there.
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 the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
Since recognizing Daesh/ISIS as a terrorist group in 2013, Turkey has been attacked by Daesh/ISIS terrorists numerous times, including 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings, and four armed attacks which killed 315 people, including police officers and soldiers, and injured hundreds.
In response to these attacks, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad, neutralizing 3,500 Daesh/ISIS terrorists and arresting 5,500.
* Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak