Turkey not fighting against Syrians: Erdogan

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ANKARA: Turkey is not fighting against Syrians and will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists, despite efforts by some countries to act as mediators, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

“Turkey is not fighting against Syrians, it is fighting with Syrians against oppressors,” Erdogan told a group meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara.

According to Daily Sabah, Erdogan reiterated once again that Turkey will not sit at the negotiating table with People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists.

The Arab League has not provided any support to the Syrians affected by the conflict or accepted any of them as refugees, Erdogan said.

The president criticized the Arab League for its indifference to the Syrian crisis and for wrongfully criticizing Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria.

He continued by saying that Turkey will not change its mind about the operation, noting that western leaders did not expect the operation to be so successful in such a short time.

“A few western leaders have been calling us on a daily basis to urge us to stop Operation Peace Spring,” he said.

“But no one (from western countries, Arab League) called to extend condolences for our 20 citizens who were killed and 170 who were wounded (by YPG cross-border attacks),” Erdoğan said, adding that they cannot be trusted.

Erdoğan highlighted that Turkey has never in its history slaughtered civilians and never will.

“If you want to see civilians being persecuted, look at Afghanistan, Myanmar, Upper Karabakh in the Caucasus and Bosnia in the Balkans,” Erdoğan said.

With regards to the YPG’s claims that Turkish troops in Syria are targeting civilians, Erdoğan said the Turkish military has not even responded to the shots fired by snipers from a church used by YPG terrorists in northeastern Syria because it is a house of worship.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK’s Syrian offshoot the People’s Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.

The operation, conducted in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.

Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.