Politics

Erdogan says Turkey will expand safe zone if needed

Erdogan criticizes countries which allow terrorist YPG/PKK's symbols in streets despite recognizing them as terror group

Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu   | 30.10.2019
Erdogan says Turkey will expand safe zone if needed

Ankara

ANKARA

If needed, Turkey will expand the safe zone in northern Syria, the Turkish president said on Wednesday.

"We will give a drastic response to any attack coming from outside of the safe zone [in northern Syria] and we will expand our safe zone area if needed," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his party's parliamentary group.

Erdogan said nearly 700 attacks against Turkey have been carried out by terrorists abroad, especially in Europe, since Turkey started the anti-terror Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.

Those countries which accept YPG/PKK as a terrorist group allow its symbols on their streets, while banning all pro-Turkey activities, Erdogan noted.

"Most of them are our addressees in NATO, most of them are our addressees in the EU where we are negotiator right now," said Erdogan.

"Despite all, these attacks are conducted in their countries and moreover they are conducted with police escort," he added.

He called on European countries specifically, saying: "You are making a mistake. The snake you feed today will turn and bite you."

In this "new War of Independence", Turkey is walking "step by step" toward victory, Erdogan said.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists 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.

Erdogan said that Turkey has cleared 558 settlements in an area of 4,200 square kilometers (1621.6 square miles) by neutralizing over 900 terrorists in northern Syria.

On Oct. 22, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will 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 Syrian offshoot of the PKK.


Slams US 


The Turkish president also criticized the U.S. administration for calling Turkey-backed rebel group Syrian National Army "terrorists".

"They are owners of this land [Syria] and are defending it. How can you call them terrorists?" said Erdogan.

He slammed the resolution passed in the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the so-called "Armenian genocide".

"A country, whose history is full of genocide, slavery, exploitation, has no right to say something to Turkey and to give lessons to Turkey," said Erdogan.

Turkey's position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to examine the issue.

Speaking to reporters after the group meeting, Erdogan responded to questions on his possible Washington visit on Nov. 13.

"I have not yet made up my mind [on the visit]," he said.


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