RIGHT OF REPLY

Turkey after terrorists in Syria, nothing else

Only terrorist elements and their hideouts, weapons, vehicles and equipment are targeted.

In Summary
  • Was the only country to put a chest-to-chest combat against DEASH (ISIS) with boots on the ground.
  • The allegation that Operation Peace Spring would damage efforts to reach a political solution in Syria is far from reality.

I am writing in reference to the article titled ‘Betraying the Kurds Yet Again’, published on October 11, 2019, in your paper by Gwynne Dyer. I would like to provide information on the Operation Peace Spring launched by the  Turkish Armed Forces on October 10, 2019, to counter a number of misrepresented assumptions and false accusations in the article against my country.

Turkey is currently fighting a number of terrorist organisations that present risk and threat to its national security. Turkey’s resolve to fight these terrorist organisations is firm. It is with this understanding that Turkey is resolutely committed to fighting against terrorism originating from Syria.

Having successfully concluded Operation Euphrates Shield in 2017 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018, Turkey cleared an area more than 4.000 km2 from DEASH (ISIS) and PKK/PYD/YPG terror, allowing more than 360,000 Syrians to return to their homes in this area. It should be noted that Turkey was the only country to put a chest-to-chest combat against DEASH (ISIS) with boots on the ground.

 

However, during the last two years, especially from the east of River Euphrates, Turkey has been exposed to more than 100 attacks or hostile acts by PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK which is designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU and NATO.

The main objectives are to ensure Turkey’s border security, neutralise terrorists and save Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of these terrorists. The operation also aims to support the international efforts to facilitate safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians to their homes

There is also credible evidence that DEASH (ISIS) terrorists detained by PKK/PYD/YPG were released in exchange for infiltrating into Turkey or northwest Syria to conduct terrorist acts. It is against this backdrop that the Turkish Armed Forces launched Operation Peace Spring.

The operation is carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with Turkey’s right to self-defence as outlined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), 2249 (2015) and 2254(2015) and in full respect of Syria’s territorial integrity and unity.

The main objectives are to ensure Turkey’s border security, neutralise terrorists and save Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of these terrorists. The operation also aims to support the international efforts to facilitate safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians to their homes of origin or other places of their choice in Syria in line with international law and in coordination with relevant UN agencies.

The legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, the National Coalition, the Interim Government along with tribal leaders as well as representatives of minorities, including the Christian communities across the region, expressed support for this operation.

Turkey has no plans whatsoever to modify the demographic structure in the operation area. It is the other way around. Our operation will give a chance to at least one million displaced Syrians, including Kurds, Arabs and Christians, to return to their ancestors’ lands after having been subject to ethnic cleansing by PYD/YPG.

As was the case with Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, only terrorist elements and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment are targeted. All necessary measures are taken to prevent any harm to civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure. PYD/YPG showed its true colours by firing up to 700 mortars and rockets indiscriminately to bordering Turkish provinces. Both our citizens and Syrians taking refuge on Turkish soil were affected. As of October 14, civilian casualties have mounted to almost 200, including 18 confirmed cases of death.

Turkey has no plans whatsoever to modify the demographic structure in the operation area. It is the other way around. Our operation will give a chance to at least one million displaced Syrians, including Kurds, Arabs and Christians, to return to their ancestors’ lands after having been subject to ethnic cleansing by PYD/YPG.

 

The allegation that Operation Peace Spring would damage efforts to reach a political solution in Syria is far from reality. Turkey is one of the few countries that exerted maximum and genuine efforts to establish the Constitutional Committee, in close cooperation with other Astana guarantors and the UN. Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts in Syria will  contribute to the territorial integrity and unity of Syria by disrupting separatist agendas.

In view of the foregoing, Turkey expects respect, empathy and support regarding its legitimate security concerns—and solidarity in the efforts against terrorism and irregular migration.