By Mehmet Akif Parlak, Hilmi Tunahan Karakaya, Huseyin Yildiz
SANLIURFA/HATAY, Turkey (AA) - The Syrian National Army (SNA), composed of various opposition groups fighting Bashar al Assad regime, has made observations at Akcakale district of Sanliurfa in southeastern Turkey late Tuesday.
SNA forces who arrived at Sanliurfa Tuesday night to support the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) observed Syrian town of Tell Abyad, bordering Turkey's Akcakale, from the zero point of the Syrian border.
The military forces exchanged views on the planned operations, and the SNA forces later joined the TSK at the border.
The TSK reinforced the troops with military vehicles, armored personnel carriers and commando units that reached Turkey's southern Hatay province from different units of the army.
The SNA is composed of various Turkey-backed opposition groups which is taking part in Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Afrin to liberate the region from PKK and Daesh terrorists.
Turkey is ready to launch Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has said the terrorist group PKK and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure. Turkey has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and it has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle two million Syrians in a 30-km-wide (19-mi) safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terror groups such as the PKK, PYD, and YPG risk its formation.
Turkey has rid an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operation Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- to purge the region of the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the terrorist group PKK.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and under the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists. Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
* Writing by Dilara Hamit