By Tevfik Durul
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey aims to ensure the safe return of the Syrian refugees it is hosting, said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
“We have to take care of our border security and make sure the Syrian refugees go back to their homes that they’ve come from, securely and voluntarily,” Kalin said this week in an interview with the Al Jazeera news network.
He also talked about a possible Turkish military operation against the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in northern Syria.
"The actual goal is to establish a safe zone that will serve two purposes: one is to secure Turkey's border with Syria by eliminating terrorist elements such as ISIS [Daesh] and the PKK/PYD/YPG, and the other is to create a space for the refugees to return voluntarily and safely," Kalin said.
Kalin emphasized that the possible Turkish military action does not aim to transform the demographic structure of the region.
"We have no interest in changing the demographics in Syria. It was the PYD/YPG that actually changed the demographics east of the Euphrates by invading these Arab towns and villages, Turkmen towns or Christian towns and villages, forcing people to leave or settle in other places,” he said.
He said some actions of the PKK/YPG/PYD related to displacing people constituted war crimes.
"In fact, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch published two separate reports about this. And one of the reports claimed that actually some of the things the PYD/YPG did in some of these Arab towns amount to war crimes.”
“No one has reported about this because it goes against this narrative that the PYD/YPG are fighting against these Daesh barbarians. But in fact, it is a Marxist and Leninist terrorist organization that has oppressed and killed and forced Kurdish people to go to other places.”
Kalin also explained why Turkey wants to establish a safe zone in northern Syria.
“Turkey is determined to clear those areas from any terrorist elements. We will return those places back to the local people. The Syrian refugees have refused to go back to places under PYD/YPG control because they never felt secure there. But in Jarablus and Al-Bab and other places where we have returned the cities back to the local residents, more than 350,000 Syrian refugees have gone back to their homes,” he said.
Kalin pointed out why Syrians do not feel safe in the region.
“The PYD/YPG has harassed, killed or kidnapped not only Arabs, Kurds and others who do not subscribe to their ideology but also Christian children. The Syrian Syriac community has made a number of statements about this, the PYD/YPG kidnapping their Christian children to enlist them in their ranks.”
Kalin also cited Turkey's efforts to end terrorism in Syria.
"We have done more than any other country when it comes to fighting ISIS or Daesh. Turkey has also done more than any other country when we eliminated more than 3,000 terrorists in the Jarablus area."
He stressed that the PKK is a terrorist organization listed as such in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.
Kalin added that it is really an irony of history for the U.S. to choose a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization as an ally.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.
*Writing by Fahri Aksut