Turkey's counterterrorism operation in northern Syria aims to protect the rights of all people living there, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.
"The west and the U.S. accuse Turkey of killing Kurds. The Kurds are our brothers. Our fight is against terrorist groups," he said, speaking at the opening reception of the Third Conference of the Presidents of the Parliament on "Fighting Terrorism and Strengthening Regional Connectivity" at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
"The anti-terror operation is meant to protect the rights of all northern Syrian people — Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Chaldeans — not to divide Syria," Erdoğan emphasized.
Turkey will ensure border security and the safe return of Syrians to their homes by clearing terror groups from the area east of the Euphrates River as it did west of the Euphrates, Erdoğan said, referring to two previous anti-terror operations since 2016.
The president said that Turkey's anti-terror operations in northern Iraq and Syria never target the countries' territorial integrity or sovereignty.
He said Turkey cannot wait any longer to combat the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists in northern Syria, who have killed hundreds of civilians.
The YPG on Thursday killed a Syrian baby in the Turkish border town of Akçakale, Şanlıurfa, Erdoğan mentioned.
"The YPG has killed hundreds of civilians prior to that," he said, stressing that Turkey cannot wait any longer to act.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.
The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.