Turkey's long-awaited Operation Peace Spring aiming to establish peace and security in northeastern Syria while enabling Syrian refugees to return home has been launched. One of the main objectives of the operation is to clear the area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn from PKK and Daesh terrorist organizations.
Even though some international circles make groundless claims that the operation only targets the PKK or even "targets Kurds" and try to manage perceptions in this way, this is far from reality. As a country that has sacrificed thousands of citizens to the PKK and Daesh terrorist organizations, Turkey appears as one of the most active and successful countries of the coalition on the fight against it.
Turkey eliminated 3,600 Daesh members in Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018. An area of 3,900 square kilometers, the scope of the two operations, has been completely cleared off terrorist organizations.
Some 320,000 Syrians were enabled to return home to these areas cleared from Daesh and the PKK. While Turkey was doing this, it hosted several international meetings as an active member of the international coalition against Daesh. Again, cutting the international financial ties of the terrorist organization was one of Turkey's main strategies.
Turkey has carried out 187 operations against Daesh in 2015, 367 in 2016, 500 in 2017 and 1,130 in 2018. Meanwhile, Turkey has prevented Daesh members from spreading to Turkey and the whole world by hindering foreign terrorist fighters' lands to be used as a passing way to conflict zones.
Meanwhile, Daesh has taken advantage of a gap caused especially by the U.S. entering a standby period regarding its policy toward the country, not being active on the field and designating proxies such as the PKK to be a replacement. During this process, groups linked to the PKK terrorist organization started to gain legitimacy under the pretext of fighting Daesh and receiving U.S. support which continues till today.
Yet, Turkey has not made concessions regarding its fight against Daesh despite this changing picture and the terrorist attacks it suffered from. Two vehicles loaded with bombs exploded in southern Hatay's Reyhanlı district in May 11, 2013. The attack claimed by Daesh killed 52 people and 146 wounded took its place in history as the most deadly assault in the history of the Turkish Republic.
Two soldiers and police officer lost their lives as a result of attacks on security officials during training in Niğde's Ulukışla district in March 20, 2014. The terrorist organization attacked Turkey's Mosul Embassy in June 11, 2014 and took embassy officials hostage. The hostages were rescued with Turkey's operation 101 days later. In an explosion on June 5, 2015 in Diyarbakır, four people died and 402 were injured. In the July 20, 2015 attack in Şanlıurfa's Suruç district, 34 civilians died while more than 100 were wounded. A suicide bomb conducted on a meeting in Ankara caused 100 civilians to die on Oct. 10, 2015. On January 12, 2016 Daesh terrorists targeted Sultanahmet. Twelve German tourists died due to the suicide bomb. An explosion occurred on March 19, 2016 on Istanbul's Istiklal Street where four tourists lost their lives. In the explosion of March 1, 2016 in front of the Gaziantep Police Department, three police officers died, while 44 civilians lost their lives in a suicide bombing at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport on June 28, 2016. During an attack on a wedding in Gaziantep on Aug. 20, 2016, 54 civilians died. On the first day of 2017, Daesh targeted an entertainment center and the terrorists opened fire on a crowd, killing 39 people.
Turkey has lost hundreds of citizens in these terrorist attacks that Daesh conducted and claimed responsibility for. Also, Since 1984, Turkey has lost 40,000 people to PKK terrorism. On one side there is the PKK claiming it represented the Kurds and tried to gain land using the fight against Daesh as an excuse in northern Syria, and on the other there is Daesh killing Muslims "in the name of Islam." The most obvious proof of their symbiotic relations is that both are primarily targeting Turkey.
Turkey has carried on its fight against both terrorist organizations in the most active way possible. The number of Daesh terrorists in Syria has fallen today. The PKK is suffering a similar fate. While fighting the militants of both terrorist organizations on the field within the scope of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey will be responsible for Daesh members in prison and their families in camps.
Despite their seeming difference of ideology and aims, Turkey has been the only country targeted by both terrorist organizations, Daesh and the PKK, at the same time. Operation Peace Spring is therefore the greatest answer to both.