By Erbil Basay
MUNICH (AA) - It is "natural" for the Turkish Armed Forces to use German-made tanks in its counter-terrorist operation in Syria, said Turkey's prime minister.
Speaking to Germany’s DPA on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Binali Yildirim Yildirim said Turkey bought German-made Leopard 2 tanks to "use for such days."
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, Syria.
Since reports suggested that the Leopards were being used in the operation, a number of German politicians have called for Berlin to halt deals with Turkey for tanks and arms upgrades.
"We are not helpless at this point," Yildirim said. "If Germany exports [arms and tanks], that is fine. However, we have alternatives. We can also make it by ourselves."
"It is natural for us to use them. If we are not going to use these arms when there are constant attacks on our soil, when we are going to use them?" Yildirim said.
"We are a NATO member country. Germany is also a NATO member. We are protecting NATO borders in our region."
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.
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 has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming 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 a fight.