By Furkan Naci Top and Ihvan Radoykov
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AA) - Ankara expects the EU's full support for the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said on Friday.
"Apart from ensuring our security, this operation also provides security to Europe. Therefore, our expectations from the allies, EU countries is full support for the Operation Olive Branch," Celik told reporters after an unofficial meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Celik reiterated the operation "unconditionally" was in accordance with international law.
"An attempt is being made to establish a terror corridor around Turkey. There is nothing more natural [for us to do] than strongly respond to this terror corridor," he said.
The minister also criticized people who claimed the operation was against Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs in Afrin.
"Certainly, this is out of question. Turkey is a friend of Kurds in Syria. Our relations with Turkmen are irrefutably clear. It is a historical relation. Turkey is also a friend of Arabs," Celik said.
He reiterated that the operation only targets terrorist organizations.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to not harm civilians.