Turkish offensive will not go beyond 30 km into Syria: Çavuşoğlu
Turkey's foreign minister says Turkish troops intend to move some 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep into northern Syria and that its operation will last until all "terrorists are neutralized." The minister reiterated that Turkey aimed to create a safe zone that would allow the "voluntary" and "safe" return of Syrian refugees or displaced people.
Turkey's incursion will not go further than 30 km into northeast Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday, as Turkish forces pressed on against YPG militants in the second day of the operation.
Speaking to broadcaster CNN Turk, Çavuşoğlu said that the security threat which Turkey says it faces from the presence of YPG militants on its border would be eliminated if the area was cleared of militants.
"When we go 30 km deep in the safe zone, terror there will be removed," he said.
Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey had the right to use air space over Syria as part of its campaign. "We have the right to use that air space," he said. "That air space does not belong to the United States. It has no right to control that air space."
The minister reiterated that Turkey aimed to create a safe zone that would allow the "voluntary" and "safe" return of Syrian refugees or displaced people.
Asked to comment on statements from European leaders criticizing Turkey's incursion and suggestions that the EU would not fund Turkey's plans for a safe zone, Çavuşoğlu said: "In this case we'd better let them, EU countries, take those refugees."
"The majority of them — if we allow them today — are ready to go to European destinations," he said. "If the EU and European countries don't want to work with Turkey then it will be their problem as well."
The minister said Turkey would take control of Daesh prisons situated within the intended safe zone, but not those that lie farther south.
"Our responsibility is to make sure that they will be held accountable for what they did. And we will make sure that they will not be released," Mevlut Çavuşoğlu told reporters in the capital Ankara.
The Turkish Interior, Justice, National Defense and Foreign Ministries as well as intelligence have a coordination working group on the issue, he said.
Women and children should be rehabilitated as another aspect of the fight against Daesh, he added.
"So in every aspect of Daesh -- fighting, dealing with these prisoners, and [rehabilitating] the women and children -- Turkey has been doing its best and will also do what it has to do in Syria as well," he said.
Çavuşoğlu stressed that if the camps or prisons are not within the planned safe zone, there will be nothing Turkey can do to be in control of the detained Daesh terrorists.
"The U.S and others made very clear that they will be staying in the southern part of the planned safe zone that we are going to establish. So, it will be under the responsibility of Americans and the others," said Çavuşoğlu.
"If those camps and prisons are in the area that the regime is controlling right now, it is the responsibility of the regime, and I cannot take the responsibility of the terrorists that are not under my control," he added.