Turkey, Politics

Turkish PM vows not to allow the fall of Azaz in Syria

Turkish prime minister also says Russian airstrikes in Azaz region are still on going

Fatjon Prronı   | 15.02.2016
Turkish PM vows not to allow the fall of Azaz in Syria

Ankara

ANKARA

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey will not allow the fall of Azaz district in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

Azaz, which is part of Syria’s Aleppo province, serves as a critical corridor that connects with Turkey.

"We will not allow the fall of Azaz. This must be clear to all in the world," Davutoglu told reporters Monday while en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

"For the moment, YPG elements have been driven out from Azaz’s surroundings," he said, adding that a severe response will be made if the military wing of the terrorist PYD group tried to approach the Syrian district.

He also said that PKK and YPG terrorist organizations were being used as tools by Russia to put Turkey under pressure.

"Today PKK in Turkey [and] YPG in Syria are open instruments of Russia."

He called the two groups "pawns of [Russia’s] expansionist policy", adding: "Therefore, our position has the most legitimate basis".

Turkish premier also noted the attempts being made to destroy the moderate opposition in Syria and close the corridor between Aleppo and Turkey through YPG forces.

Davutoglu said that Turkey’s position towards the issue has been clear to all for a long time. "YPG will not cross to the west of Euphrates," he said, adding that the group will not be allowed pass to Azaz.

He said Turkey is taking every measure to protect its own security.

"No country has been affected by developments in Syria like Turkey," he said. "Therefore, we will not hesitate to take security measures," he added.

Turkish troops have shelled PYD positions around Azaz in northern Syria since Saturday in response to artillery strikes on Turkey.

Later, at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Davutoglu said that Russian airstrikes in Azaz region were continuing.

“Even while we continued talks [with Ukrainian premier], Russia attacked a school and a hospital in Azaz with ballistic missiles believed to have been fired from the Caspian; many civilians and children have lost their lives,” Davutoglu later told reporters in a joint press meeting with the Ukrainian prime minister in Kiev.

Turkish prime minister said that the Syrian regime, Russia and YPG were committing crimes against humanity in Syria like other terrorist organizations.

“They are openly violating international law in order to advance on the ground before solution [is achieved],” Davutoglu said.

The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group also by the U.S. and the EU. The PKK has targeted Turkish security forces and civilians since 1984. It resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in late July 2015. 

Since then, more than 260 members of the security forces have been martyred and thousands of PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.

Azaz -- six kilometers (four miles) from the Turkish border -- has been the scene of recent heavy fighting as the PYD has advanced during a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive against opposition forces.

 'Breaches' in Crimea slammed

Davutoglu also said that Kiev was one of the backbone countries for stability in the Eurasia region.

The premier said that Turkey sees the importance of stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He noted that Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Syria remained under threat by Moscow.

He also reiterated Ankara's rejection of the Russian annexation of Crimean peninsula.

"Turkey recognizes the territorial integrity of Ukraine but definitely rejects the annexation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of the Ukrainian territory and the natural homeland of the Crimean Tatars," he said.

The premier highlighted the "open breach of human rights" in Crimea, adding Ankara's stance against Moscow's aggression in Crimea was similar to its position over Ukraine and Syria.

"We would like to repeat it for Russian authorities: The Soviet Union era ended over 25 years ago. Attempts to revive it by relying on its veto card at the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] would not yield positive results for Russia," he added.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea -- making up roughly 13 percent of the peninsula's overall population -- who opted for annexation with Russia in a referendum on March 16, 2014, a vote not recognized by Kiev and Western powers.

Turkey sent a delegation to Crimea on April 2015 to evaluate the situation of Crimean Tatars since the annexation.

Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, around 250,000 Crimean Tatars were taken from their homes and forced to migrate thousands of kilometers away to Central Asia.

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