By Sinan Uslu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the vital importance of martyrs and veterans in the fight against terrorism in a message he sent to the state commendation medal ceremony held in the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday.
In his message, Erdogan said, "Our brothers and sisters martyred or wounded in the fight against terrorism, during cross-border operations, and on July 15  are the current standard bearers of this great cause."
He said the commendation medals presented to veterans and the families of martyrs were "symbols that will remind you of the appreciation and gratefulness of our state and nation for the generations to come."
"It is owing to you that we have been able to live in these lands for a thousand years, drink from the same springs, and proudly watch our flag fly high," Erdogan also said, adding that every Turkish citizen and every state institution would be standing by and supporting all veterans and the families of martyrs forever.
“Every single martyr that we bury here and every single veteran that has won our hearts further strengthens our attachment to these lands.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli also attended the ceremony.
"We will continue to fight in Jarabulus, in the Gabar and Cudi mountains," Yildirim said.
"We will protect our laws, democracy and brotherhood and crush all terrorist groups."
Defense Minister Canikli, in his speech, said Operation Olive Branch, launched by the Turkish Armed Forces on Saturday in Afrin, would be "yet another heroic saga."
"This is an operation to extirpate all terrorist groups," he said.
"Those who threaten Turkey's national security will be wiped out."