Press release

ARTICLE BY THE AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY ON OPERATION PEACE SPRING

04 november, 2019
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Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, Turkey has been one of the most affected countries from the attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups which gained foothold in Syrian territory. Sharing a border of 911 km with Syria, Turkey gives utmost importance to Syria’s security and stability. With this understanding and with a sound sense of responsibility, Turkey took a leading role in the fight against DEASH. Turkey conducted 187 operations against DEASH in 2015; 367 in 2016; 500 in 2017 and 1130 in 2018. Turkey has also given full support to international efforts, as exemplified by its active embership in the Global Coalition Against DEASH (Turkey is co-chairman of the Coalition’s Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters).

The threat of terrorism originating from Syria and targeting our borders is not limited to DEASH. PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by NATO, EU, US and many other nations, has a Syrian offshoot called PYD/YPG. During the last two years, especially from the east of River Euphrates, more than hundred attacks by PYD/YPG to Turkey have been recorded. This cruel terrorist organization has also smuggled explosive materials, ammunition and weapons to Turkey to be delivered to PKK and perpetrated terrorist attacks within Syria and against all Syrians, including Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Arameans. PKK/PYD/YPG, no matter how they are called, the terrorists tried to recruit young people, killed those who resisted, and wounded others. They have attacked the shops and homes of the people in the cities, made arbitrary arrests, assaulted the captured persons and exposed them on the streets.

While striving to cope with terrorist groups exploiting the power vacuum in Syria, Turkey did not turn a blind eye to the humanitarian tragedies and followed an open door policy for helpless people who fled terrorism in Syria. We are hosting nearly 4 million refugees, for whose needs 40 billion dollars have been spent by Turkey so far. The figures speak for themselves.

In this background, the Operation Peace Spring was launched on 9 October 2019 on the basis of international law, in accordance with our right of self-defence as outlined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council resolutions on counterterrorism , and in full respect of Syria’s territorial integrity and unity. Another legal basis of the operation is Adana Agreement which was signed in 1998. The operation was initiated with two important objectives: the first one is to eliminate the brutal threat of terrorism originating from Syria, targeting our borders and murdering innocent people. As long as PKK/PYD/YPG and DEASH terrorists are not wiped out from our borders and the operation zone, our citizens and local population will continue to suffer.

Second objective is to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of Syrians, who had been displaced not also by DEASH but also due to PYD/YPG, to their homeland. To this end, Turkey has planned to create a safe zone between Euphrates River and Syria-Iraq border with a depth of 32 kilometres. It should be remembered that more than 360.000 Syrians were able to return to their homes when Turkey cleared an area over 4.000 km2 from DEASH and PYD/YPG terror through Operation Euphrates Shield in 2017 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018.

In a nutshell, the operation has been started in order to drive all terrorists out of the region, to ensure our border security and to liberate local Syrians from the tyranny of PYD/YPG as well as the DEASH threat. In this process, Turkey has shown that it is open to cooperation in order to achieve these goals.

An important agreement was signed between Turkey and the USA on 17 October 2019. In line with this agreement, the operation was paused for 120 hours for the US to facilitate the withdrawal of PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist elements. The US has already announced that withdrawal of PKK/YPG from the area is completed. In addition, a historic agreement was signed between Turkey and the Russian Federation on 22 October 2019, which includes articles on upholding Turkey’s border security and withdrawal of PYD/YPG terrorist elements 30 kilometres away from our border.

These deals reveal that the allies and partners have clearly acknowledged Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. The entire world should now accept the reality that PKK and the PYD/YPG are the same organization. For democracy, rule of law and human rights, we invite the whole world to see, accept and take a position. PYD/YPG/PKK is a terrorist organization as dangerous as DEASH. We will not allow any attempt to put any terrorist organization in our way under different names and flags or in different uniforms. We are and will be committed to continue fight against terrorism in its all forms and manifestations, with the cooperation of friendly and allied countries.

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