By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - Thousands of Turkish American students expressed solidarity Monday with Turkey's ongoing counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria.
"We remember the more than 40,000 Turkish citizens who lost their lives to PKK terror since 1984, and we mourn the deaths of eight Turkish Kurdish villagers, including a nine-month-old baby and an 11-year old girl who were killed last week when the PKK/YPG/SDF fired missiles into Turkey from Syria," Turkish university organizations in the U.S. said in a joint statement exclusively shared with Anadolu Agency.
The statement was signed by some 11 Turkish university organizations, including the Turkish Student Association (TSA), the Turkish Student Organization (TSO), the Turkish American Student Association - University of Delaware (TASA) and some independent students from 20 American universities including Boston University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oregon State University.
"We support the Turkish Peace Spring Operation which aims to establish a safe zone in northeastern Syria in view of Turkey’s legitimate national security concerns and which paves the way for the safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians Kurds, Turcomans and Arabs to their homeland," the statement said.
Students stressed that Turkish soldiers have been continuously fighting the Daesh and PKK/YPG terror organizations "in accordance with international law."
"Turkey has absolutely NO intention to occupy or invade!" the statement emphasized.
"Turkey is taking all measures not to harm Kurds or any inhabitants who are not terrorists or adverse combatants, in stark contrast with the prejudicial reporting presented by some media and groundless claims that Turks and Kurds are 'natural enemies'," it said, adding Turks and Kurds have been brothers and sisters for centuries and Turkish Kurds account for nearly 20% of the country's population.
Underlining that the Marxist/Leninist PKK/YPG/Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are all the same terrorist organization, the statement said they are "counter-egos of one another under different names for different purposes."
The SDF brand has been extensively used by Western governments and media to dissociate the YPG with the PKK, which is recognized as a terror outfit by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
"Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that the PKK/YPG/SDF has committed war crimes against the people of northern Syria as well as engaged in a brutal policy of recruiting children to commit acts of terror," the students said.
The students also called on the U.S. to abandon "the illegal and dangerous policy" of using one terrorist organization -- the PKK/YPG/SDF -- to fight another -- Daesh.
"Terrorists never have and will never bring stability, prosperity and democracy," they said. "However, Turkey has been devotedly fighting for peace in the region."
The students expressed concern over "the politicization of facts as authorities and the media engage in a uniform pattern of words, tones, demeanors and editorialization," saying "it is mobilizing hatred, only a shade away from actual violence against people of Turkish heritage here and abroad."
"We urge the authorities and media to exercise objectivity and civility and to rethink their positions on this historic moment and opportunity for solidarity in diversity in northern Syria," they added.
The students concluded the joint statement with a quote from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic: "Peace at Home! Peace in the World!"
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
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 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.