President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday that the international coalition in Syria is not providing adequate support to Turkey in its fight against terrorist organizations such as Daesh, the PKK and its offshoots the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (YPG). While addressing the country's local village heads during the weekly meeting at the Presidential Palace, he referred to Turkey's ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, and said: "We are very well aware of the reasons for our prolonged counter-terror operations in al-Bab. However, those who are conspiring against us are not aware that they are cutting their own throats."
Erdoğan affirmed that the forces that utilized Daesh, the PKK, PYD and YPG tried to cut Turkey off from Syria by establishing a terror corridor and attempted to use the aforementioned terrorist organizations to attack border towns in Turkey. Saying that there similar efforts to cut off Turkey from Iraq, a plan that is being pushed by the said forces, Erdoğan said: "We waited for the right time to launch the operations. We are continuing to encircle the terrorist organizations in the region. Daesh is on the run, while we are continuing to fight against the PKK and its offshoots the YPG and PYD. We will establish a de facto safe zone that is cleansed from all terrorist organizations."
The Turkish military released a statement yesterday about Operation Euphrates Shield, an ongoing operation in northern Syria to fight Daesh terrorists, providing up-to-date information on the military developments that took place between Jan. 18, 7 a.m. and Jan. 19, 7 a.m. local time.
The release said the Turkish forces were backing the ongoing operation of Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, aiming to liberate Suflaniyah and Qabr al Mukri from Daesh terrorists, leaving 16 Daesh terrorists dead.
"[A total of] 164 Daesh terror targets, including hideouts, defensive positions, command control facilities, weapons and vehicles were hit during the day," the statement also said, referring to the bombardments carried out by land and air.
Turkish jets bombed 18 Daesh targets in al-Bab, Bzagah, and Qabr al-Muqri. A total of 16 buildings used as shelters and two buildings used as headquarters were destroyed during the strikes.
The statement also highlighted the details of the Turkish-Russian joint operations, which took place Wednesday in al-Bab.
"Daesh targets, identified south of a coordination line fixed al-Bab region, were hit by the Russian Federation's war planes," the military statement said.
Twenty-five Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were destroyed by explosive ordnance teams over the span of 24 hours, adding up to a total of 2,975 since the beginning of the operation, while 43 mines were detonated.
On the other hand, Erdoğan underscored that borders that divide countries are non-existent in the hearts of the people. "A line can be drawn between individual countries; however, the heart knows no boundaries. If our people are standing united despite all of these attacks, it is because of the sincere support of our brothers and sisters across our physical borders," he said.
In addition, Erdoğan asserted that the fall of Turkey would be more than just one country's desolation, as it would also be the fall of a prominent stronghold of faith and culture.
On Aug. 24, 2016, Turkey declared that was exercising its rights of self-defense codified under the U.N. Charter Article 51, and launched Operation Euphrates Shield. A National Security Council press release (Nov. 30, 2016) stated that the operation's objectives were to maintain border security and confront Daesh terrorism within the framework of the U.N. charter; it also emphasized that the PKK terrorist organization, as well as its affiliates the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG), will not be allowed to establish a corridor of terror on Turkey's doorstep
The campaign, especially in its initial stages, captured its operational targets rapidly starting from Jarablus. Operation Euphrates Shield cleared an area of 1,100 square kilometers within its first 50 days, and subsequently, secured an area of 2,000 square kilometers at the time of writing. In October-November 2016, capture of the territories to the east of Azaz-Mare, and Dabiq-a center of resistance for Daesh's morale and motivation - has played an important part in paving the way toward Al-Bab. Gaining this depth has been very important for Turkey's defense in preventing Daesh's rocket attacks, and for overcoming the Daesh terror threat posed by rockets launched by mobile platforms.
The al-Bab campaign will primarily consist of two main combat phases, and a subsequent "holding the town" phase. The first combat phase refers to the current situation in which Daesh is aggressively resisting in immediate areas surrounding al-Bab, whereas the second combat phase would begin after this resistance is broken. Most probably, the second combat phase will consist of clashes through which the terrorist organization aims to increase the costs of the campaign by using disruptive means such as improvised explosive devices (IED) and tunnels, and attempts to provoke the local populace.
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