European countries should be grateful that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are carrying out the “dangerous but important” anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Monday.
Kalın told German public broadcaster DW that the presence of Turkey's soldiers is a guarantee for moving the political process forward in the country as well as for protecting Syrian refugees.
"Our European friends should be thankful to our soldiers for this very dangerous but important work," he added.
He stressed that the 120-hour pause granted last Thursday for the withdrawal of the PKK and its Syrian branch, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), from the region agreed on with the U.S. will not be extended.
"If this part [withdrawal] of the mission is completed by tomorrow and we make sure that all YPG terrorists left the area, then we will halt the operation... as agreed in the joint declaration and the agreement that we have had with the Americans.”
Kalin said although Turkey is sticking to the agreement, there have been 20 violations of the pause by YPG and PKK terrorists using snipers and rockets to attack Turkey's soldiers, and that one soldier was killed.
"We had two main goals with this operation: one was to clear this area of the terrorists; the second one is to enable the refugees to go back to their homes, so we want to create conditions suitable for them," he explained.
He added that once the YPG and PKK terrorists completely withdraw from the region and Turkey makes sure the area is safe for civilians, there will be no further military action.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG and PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates river of PKK terrorists and the group's Syrian offshoot, the YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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