YPG provoking West with claims of Daesh prisoner escape, Erdoğan says

Published 13.10.2019 19:20
Updated 13.10.2019 19:55
emAP Photo/em
AP Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday that reports of Daesh prisoners escaping is disinformation meant to provoke the United States and the West.

Erdoğan spoke to reporters Sunday evening at a closed news conference at the Presidency's Dolmabahçe Office.

The PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) has been trying to use captured Daesh terrorists as a bargaining chip, hoping to provoke the West against Turkey by issuing false statements saying Ankara was targeting the camp with strikes. Turkey has denied multiple times any claims of strikes on the camp.

A witness said earlier Sunday that YPG terrorists deliberately started a fire in a camp for Daesh prisoners in northern Syria's Ayn Issa. The witness, who is a civil staff in Raqqa, Daesh terror group's former de-facto capital in Syria, said the YPG removed them from the camp prior to the fire.

"We are not eying the territory of Syria. We stand against those who want to divide and smash Syria," Erdoğan said.

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 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.

Erdoğan also said he has been holding calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin whenever problems arise related to the operation.

"We are taking the necessary steps together," he said.

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.

President Erdoğan also criticized the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mustafa Akıncı for his remarks on the ongoing counterterrorism operation.

"I say this very clearly, (the statements) are completely unjust, not knowing their limit," he said.

Earlier Sunday, the spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Ömer Çelik, called the remarks "disrespectful."

Çelik criticized Akıncı for inviting Turkey to hold a dialogue with terrorist organizations.

"Operation Peace Spring is being conducted against a terrorist organization, which is a murder network. Mr. Akıncı does not formulate a single sentence against the terrorist organization, but he criticizes our efforts against terrorism. This is a clear disrespect," Çelik said on Twitter.

He also reminded Akıncı of the number of citizens, soldiers and babies killed as the result of the attacks.

"For the sake of your fallen martyrs, you should not use this disrespectful language," the party spokesman added.

Çelik stressed that the Cyprus Peace Operation was carried out against a "murder network," adding it was an operation that established peace.

"Operation Peace Spring is also a fight against terrorism [...]," he added.

"These statements that do not represent the TRNC citizens is a black stain for Akıncı.

"We have the same will for Operation Peace Spring which we had while we were conducting the Cyprus Peace Operation," Çelik maintained.

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