Ns News Online Desk: Turkey’s president on Sunday vowed to continue the country’s counter-terrorism efforts, brushing aside the identity or size of groups which threaten the country. “We will open our hearts and arms to those who show amity towards us,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a large crowd at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s provincial congress in the capital Ankara. “We don’t look at the identity or size of those who incite enmity, threaten our independence and future.”
Asserting that Turkey has begun to “bury” the terrorists of the PKK, PYD/PKK and Daesh — including in its current Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria — Erdogan vowed to continue these efforts, saying: “Either they will leave this place and go to those who open their arms to them, or they will bury their weapons.” He also stressed: “No decision on any matter concerning our region can be taken if Turkey is not included.”
In its 30-year terror campaign, the PKK — recognized as a terror group by Turkey, the U.S., and EU — has taken some 40,000 lives, including thousands of civilians. On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, it said. The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that “utmost care” is being taken to not harm civilians.