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Türkiye committed to eliminating terror presence on its southern borders: Defense minister

"We are fully determined to create a 30-40 kilometer (18.6-25-mile) deep security corridor along our Iraqi and Syrian borders and to completely clear the region of terrorists," Turkish National Defense Minister Yaşar Güler said on Wednesday.

Anadolu Agency TÜRKIYE
Published July 10,2024
(AA File Photo)

Türkiye is committed to creating a security corridor along its southern borders with Iraq and Syria and to fully eliminating the terrorist presence in the area, said the country's defense minister.

"We are fully determined to create a 30-40 kilometer (18.6-25-mile) deep security corridor along our Iraqi and Syrian borders and to completely clear the region of terrorists," Yaşar Güler said in written responses to questions from U.S. outlet Politico.

"We will continue operations until the last terrorist is neutralized," Güler said, referring to the terrorist groups PKK and YPG/PKK, its Syrian offshoot. Turkish authorities use the term "neutralize" to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

The terrorist PKK is known for using northern Iraq, near the Turkish border, as a hideout to plot terror attacks and for launching attacks both on nearby Türkiye and locals in northern Syria.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched three successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents.

In its nearly 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK-listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S., and the EU-has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.

Türkiye is seeking to "create a fully independent defense industry based on domestic and national production, thus strengthening the country's economy and contributing to Türkiye's independence," Politico quoted Güler as saying.

Güler underlined that the technologies involved range from unmanned land, sea, and air vehicles to helicopters, from weapons and smart ammunition to missiles, air defense, and electronic warfare systems.

Türkiye also exports these products to "many countries," he said.


Güler also sharply disputed recent claims that Türkiye is not aligned with the rest of NATO, saying: "We absolutely reject the statement that [Türkiye] is unreliable; there is no such thing."

"In an environment where 32 allies are together, it is unthinkable to have the same views on every issue," he said.

"Some countries are trying to create such a perception," he said, referring to Germany's export restrictions on Eurofighter jets that Ankara wants to buy, calling these restrictions "the real issue that creates distrust within the alliance."

Güler called Ankara's stance on the Ukraine war "balanced and active … within the framework of strategic partnership with Ukraine and positive dialogue with Russia."

"To date, Türkiye has been the only country that has been able to bring both sides of the war together in high-level talks," he said, referring to the Istanbul talks in 2022, just after the war started.

"We will not allow the Black Sea to turn into a strategic battlefield," Güler added.

"The fact that EU member allies seek alternatives outside NATO's security umbrella will harm the unity and solidarity of the alliance," Güler said.

"The most effective security organization in the Euro-Atlantic region is NATO," Güler said, adding: "While we understand Europe's efforts to increase its own security, we think there is no need for any other formation."

The interview took place on the eve of this week's three-day 75th anniversary NATO summit in Washington.

Türkiye has been a member of NATO for over 70 years.