Syrian opposition forces have started to take control of Jarabulus in northern Syria and the surrounding area, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday.
Speaking during a live television program on Haberturk late Wednesday, Yildirim said Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield aims to clear the PYD and the YPG as well as Daesh from a particular zone along the Turkish border in northern Syria.
Turkey describes the PYD as the Syrian affiliate of the terrorist PKK group. The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD.
"The Syrian opposition [Free Syrian Army] is [now] settled in Jarabulus, and has started to control the villages and towns near the area. But the whole zone, including Jarabulus, needs to be cleared of the PYD and the YPG. There should be Syrians [living there]," Yildirim said.
Referring to the operation, Yildirim said Turkey's move came after a rising terror threat on its borders.
He said that the timing of the operation is all about the deteriorating situation in the Jarabulus area: "To link the timing of the operation with visits of [U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden or [Kurdish Regional Government leader Masoud] Barzani would be over interpretation. There is no such thing," he said.
Yildirim said that the main point of the operation "is to combat Daesh as well as other terror groups and build a Syria where all ethnic groups like Kurds, Arabs and Nusayri people live together by protecting Syria's territorial integrity".
"We have such an aim. And we are working to achieve this aim," he said.
Turkish military’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria was launched early Wednesday when artillery and airstrikes were followed by Turkish tanks crossing the border to target Daesh in support of Free Syrian Army fighters.
Jarabulus is located five kilometers (three miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border.
The operation is in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international treaties and a mandate given to Turkey’s armed forces by parliament in 2014, which was extended for another year in Sep. 2015.
Since January, rocket attacks on the Turkish province of Kilis from Daesh-held territory in Syria have killed at least 21 people while terrorist attacks in Gaziantep blamed on Daesh include Saturday’s suicide bombing of a wedding that killed 54 and a car bomb attack in May that martyred two police officers.
The Turkish prime minister also accused Western powers of ignoring the ongoing situation in Syria.
"They [Western countries] are just competing with each other instead of solving the problem. Then, who pays the price? The displaced and killed civilians and Turkey pay the price," the premier said.
Yildirim also said the U.S. and Turkey agreed that PYD elements in northern Syria should never advance west of the Euphrates River.
"This is a promise of the U.S. to Turkey. We will continue our operations until [the U.S.] keeps its word. We should be sure that there is no terror threat against Turkey on its borders," he added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.