Erdogan vows to expand fight against terror threats
Turkish president says Ankara will broaden its rules of engagement against all terrorist threats, including PYD, Daesh
Turkey reserves the right to carry out every kind of operations at home and abroad against terror threats, the country’s president said on Saturday.
“Turkey will use its right to expand its rules of engagement beyond [responding to] actual attacks against it and to encompass all terror threats, including PYD and Daesh in particular,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a UNESCO meeting in Istanbul.
His remarks came after a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish capital Ankara killed 28 people and wounded 81 others on Feb. 17.
The Turkish government revealed that the Ankara attack was carried out jointly by a YPG member -- a Syrian national -- and PKK members. The YPG is the military wing of the PYD, which is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.
Ankara considers all three groups to be terrorist outfits, while the U.S. designates only the PKK as such and regards the YPG as a "reliable partner" in northern Syria.
In his remarks Saturday, Erdogan noted: “Nobody can limit Turkey in using its right of self-defense against terror attacks targeting the country.
“Whoever prevents us from using our right of self-defense, we will recognized it as a terrorist and act accordingly,” he added.
The president reiterated his country’s determination to “eliminate all the attacks targeting its lands, people, and unity, at their source if needed”.
Thousands of PKK terrorists have been killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq since the PKK resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in late July.
Turkey is also a part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting against Daesh.
Erdogan accused perpetrators of terrorism of trying to tarnish Turkey’s image. “There are similar problems [terror activities] around the world, especially cities in the western countries,” he said.
“Despite the wars raging next to it and despite being a direct target of terror organizations, Turkey is still one of the safest countries in the world.”
At least 250,000 people have been killed since the Syria conflict began in 2011, according to UN figures.
The conflict prompted an unprecedented refugee crisis which made Turkey the world's largest refugee-hosting country with nearly 2.7 million Syrian refugees.
Turkey has been targeted by terrorist attacks in recent months.
Ankara was hit by twin suicide bombings on Oct. 10, when 103 people were killed in an attack on protesters gathering outside the city’s main train station for a peace rally. The attack was the deadliest in modern Turkish history and has been attributed to Daesh.
Istanbul’s historical district Fatih was also struck by a suicide bomber last month. The Jan. 12 suicide attack that killed 11 people -- mostly Germans -- occurred in the city’s tourist hub Sultanahmet, home to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Another Daesh-blamed suicide bombing left more than 30 people in Sanliurfa's Suruc district in July.
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