By Dilara Hamit
ANKARA (AA) - A total of 109 terrorists have been neutralized so far since Turkey started Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Turkey's aim is to make sure that everybody can go home again after the Operation Peace Spring clear northern Syria of terrorists, Erdogan told a meeting with provincial heads of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara.
"We will not accept anyone being harmed by Operation Peace Spring, especially civilians," said Turkish president.
On Wednesday, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees as well as Syria’s territorial integrity.
"We are hosting 300,000 Kurds from Kobani, Syria," said Erdogan, rebuffing claims that Turkish is anti-Kurdish.
"Our doors are open to all who will leave the PYD ranks and act to protect their homes, villages, cities, and their own honor, whether Arab, Kurdish or any other," Erdogan said.
The president highlighted that Turkey neutralized 16,000 terrorists -- 7,500 terrorists within Turkey, and 8,500 outside its borders over the last four years.
Erdogan underlined that the purpose of the operation was to contribute to Syria's territorial integrity and political unity, just as were Turkey's previous operations into the war-torn country.
"It is clear that neither the territorial integrity nor the political unity of this country cannot be spoken of when one quarter of Syrian territory is under the occupation of the PKK/YPG terrorist organization," said Erdogan.
Erdogan slammed the West for its incapacity in fighting the Daesh terrorists, adding that the foreign fighters in the terror group came to Syria from European countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands -- 5,500 of which Ankara sent back.
He underlined that he would not accept criticism of the operation and condemned Saudi Arabia for brining Yemen to its current position, saying Riyadh should first account for the deaths in Yemen.
"Currently, Yemen is in poverty and need, you tore down everything.
"You can not speak nonsense about our fight against terrorists and our efforts to bring unity to Syria," he said.
Erdogan also objected to Egypt's criticism of the operation: "Sisi had a meeting with someone and condemned this operation, who cares? Because you are a murderer of democracy in your own country," Erdogan said.
"You have caused Mohamed Morsi, who was elected with 52% of votes, to die writhing in court.
"You did not even allow his family to bury him, you are such a murderer," Erdogan said.
"Our concern is with terrorist organizations such as Daesh, the YPG and PYD, who are occupying Syria, we have no problem with our Kurdish brothers there," said Erdogan, adding that the operation is being distorted.
Slamming the EU, he said the bloc had never been sincere or honest, stalling Turkey since 1963 for membership.
Erdogan noted that Turkey's border security was being threatened and that there were 3.6 million Syrian refugees waiting to return to their homes.
"EU, wake up. I say it one more time, if you try to frame our operation there [northern Syria] as an invasion, our task will be simple, we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you," said Erdogan.
Erdogan criticized Europe for not sending the second installment of €3 billion ($3.3 billion) for the needs of refugees in Turkey.
"The EU won't pay €3 billion they promised, but Turkey spent $40 billion without getting anything from Europe," said Erdogan.
Erdogan also called for all NATO countries -- especially the U.S. -- to stand by Ankara, stressing that Turkey was also a NATO member.
"NATO countries have no right to stay silent when a NATO country is being attacked," said Erdogan, referring to article 5 of the alliance's charter.
Erdogan said Turkey was one of the most important members of NATO and one of only three that fulfills its commitments in a timely manner.
He criticized those members who preferred redundant terrorists groups over Turkey.
The EU pledged €6 billion ($7.6 billion) in funding for refugees living in Turkey, promising to mobilize the second €3 billion by the end of 2018.
Turkey hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. The country has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources for helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operation Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- to purge the region of the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the terrorist group PKK.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists.
Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.