By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey is respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity, political unity, and national security while carrying out a military operation against terrorist groups in northwestern Syria, a senior Turkish lawmaker said Tuesday.
"The Operation Olive Branch is being carried out in full respect of Syria’s territorial integrity, political unity, and national security with the objective to eliminate the PYD/YPG/PKK/KCK and DEASH terrorists in Afrin as well as to free the brotherly people of Syria from cruelty and oppression," Volkan Bozkir, head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee, said.
In a letter he wrote to his foreign counterparts, Bozkir said Turkish army targeted only terrorists' shelters, depots, weapons, vehicles, and equipment.
The Turkish Armed Forces launched Operation Olive Branch on Saturday to remove all PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
"All necessary precautions have been taken to avoid any harm to civilians," said Bozkir, an Istanbul deputy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
Bozkir stressed that the operation would end only when "its objective is accomplished as was the case in Operation Euphrates Shield.”
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.
"Turkey has been obligated to undertake Operation Olive Branch to secure the lives and safety of the people of Syria," said Bozkir.
"We could no longer tolerate the creation of an entity in parts of Syria, which has no bearing with the history, culture, and realities of the region. Such a false act is also a serious threat for any prospects for peace, security, and stability in the whole region and beyond as much as it is for Turkey."
Bozkir added that Turkey would continue to sustain its efforts to find an immediate political solution in Syria.
The Turkish military has said the operation was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, adding that "utmost care" was being shown not to harm any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.