Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Monday Turkey's determined anti-terror stance will continue against all groups threatening the country's security and stability and carry out attacks against its citizens. "As a result of the coordination between our related units, we are witnessing that the terror groups are being cornered. So far this year, 296 very important terror events have been prevented as a result of the coordinated work," Kurtulmuş said in a press briefing after the government's Cabinet meeting in Ankara, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kurtulmuş added that the prevented terror events included car bombings and suicide bombings as well.
Commenting on Operation Euphrates Shield, in which the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) provides support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against the Daesh terror group in Syria, Kurtulmuş highlighted that the operation is moving forward as planned and that the necessary steps are being taken to establish the 5,000-square-kilometer terror-free area south of Turkey's border in Syria. Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister added that Turkey will support the FSA to clear Manbij from Democratic Union Party (PYD) terrorists if the group does not withdraw from the Syrian city. Ankara has been pushing southwards, supporting FSA forces as part of Operation Euphrates Shield launched on Aug. 24, to now clear al-Bab from Daesh terrorists and form a terror-free zone of 5,000 square meters comprising of the towns of al-Bab, al-Rai, Azaz, Jarablus and Manbij.
The terror-free corridor will ensure security for Turkey's southern border with Syria, while providing a safe shelter for locals in the region, which would stop the mass influx of refugees coming into Turkey. Operation Euphrates Shield has seen both the Daesh and PKK/PYD terrorist groups targeted by the opposition FSA plus Turkish tanks, artillery and aircraft. The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey, although the U.S. and EU only view the PKK as a terrorist organization. Kurtulmuş also said Turkey has warned against demographic changes in Mosul, as it will lead to instability and further clashes in the region. "Turkey follows developments in the Mosul operation closely. The Nineveh Guards, trained by Turkish military, peshmergas are part of the operation. Hashd Shaabi is not part of the operation and through diplomatic negotiations the group's entrance to Mosul will be prevented," he said.
Commenting on the possible operation to liberate Raqqa from Daesh, Kurtulmuş said, "The Raqqa operation must be launched by legitimate armies." Turkey argues that it is the best option for the Raqqa operation to be launched after the Mosul operation in Iraq and the ending of Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, the deputy PM added.
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