Turkey takes utmost care to protect civilians in Afrin, Erdoğan says
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that Turkey takes utmost care to make sure that civilians are not affected by the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin targeting the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist group.
Addressing a party meeting in the capital, Erdoğan highlighted that Turkey has no interest in invading another country, unlike others who have been carrying out military interventions for almost over two decades in Afghanistan and in Libya.
Erdoğan noted that Turkey aims to secure its border and clear terrorists off the Syrian-Turkish borders, as the terrorist group has been advancing and posing a threat to Turkey's national security, which many partners turned a blind eye to.
"Turkey will take matters into its own hands in the fight against terror if others do not cooperate," Erdoğan said, adding that Afrin operation is a "clear warning" to those who don't want to understand Turkey's determination in the fight against terrorism.
The president also noted that Turkey's operation will also focus on Syria's Manbij after Afrin is cleared.
"Arabs are the rightful owners of Manbij, not YPG/PYD terrorists," Erdoğan said.
The operation in Afrin – bordering Turkey's Hatay and Kilis provinces – was widely expected in the wake of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which cleared Daesh terrorists from Turkey's border between Aug. 24, 2016, and March 2017.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.