President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that those who have eyes on Syrian soil should leave the country, as he commented on Turkey’s military offensive in the country’s northeast.
“We don’t have eyes on Syrian soil, but those who have please leave,” Erdoğan said in a speech during a meeting with representatives of Turkish community at a special event at Old Billingsgate building in London on Dec. 4, adding that Turkish troops will remain on Syrian soil “until the area is cleared of all terrorists.”
Turkey launched its military offensive in northern Syria on Oct. 9 against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
The move was slammed by Turkey’s Western allies, mainly due to the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) being an ally of Washington in the fight against ISIS.
The issue was one of the main topics in the NATO summit held on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 in London, with Turkey saying that it would block a defense plan of the alliance if it fails to designate the YPG as terrorists.
During his speech, Erdoğan defended the offensive due to the country having a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria.
“Everyone gives advice to us. They ask us, ‘What business do you have in Syria? When will you get out of Syria?’ We tell them one thing. ‘What are you doing in Syria? Do you have a border with Syria? No. So, what business do you have there?'” the President said, adding that Turkey is subjected to attacks by the YPG, ISIS and the PKK.
“Today, there’s a Turkey that seeks no one’s permission when carrying out operations for its national security with an independent foreign policy,” Erdoğan also said.