UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN IN ANOTHER PARTY CONGRESS IN OSMANIYE
By Aynur Ekiz, Baris Gundogan and Mumin Altas
ANKARA (AA) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said a global anti-Turkey propaganda based on lies would not be successful.
"Launching of a worldwide war of propaganda, based on lies, slander and distortion, by those who cannot deal with Turkey on the ground, will not work," Erdogan said during a provincial congress by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the southern province of Kahramanmaras.
Supporters of PYD/PKK are involved in a smear campaign against Turkey's ongoing counter-terror operation in Syria through the use of crude photo manipulation and misrepresentation. Social media accounts linked to the terrorist group post morphed photos which are unrelated to the ongoing operation and have actually been taken at another place and time.
"Those who see us as yesterday’s Turkey, and treat us in this manner, have begun to gradually realize the truth," Erdogan said.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
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 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 that "utmost care" was being taken to not harm civilians.
- 'Not in our blood to attack civilians'
Erdogan rejected claims that civilians were being targeted during the operation.
"It is not in our blood to attack civilians, but in yours," he said.
Erdogan later attended another provincial party congress in the neighboring province of Osmaniye where he complained of lack of "serious" global protest against the killings in Syria's besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.
"Have you heard of a country which is seriously protesting the ongoing violence in Eastern Ghouta?
"They keep talking about civilians [rights]. Well, aren't they civilians in Ghouta?" he asked.
Referring to the YPG/PKK terrorists in Afrin, he said: "Look at those who were defying us and our country a month ago. Today, they are begging and crying to their Western lords saying: 'Please, save us'.
"Doesn't matter whoever they cry or beg to, we will give them what they deserve."
-1,951 terrorists neutralized in Afrin
He added, so far, 1,951 terrorists had been 'neutralized' during Operation Olive Branch.
Turkish authorities generally use the term "neutralize" to signify that the targets either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Erdogan said the country was determined to have a global voice on a range of issues, from economy to democracy.
Turkey's revival has motivated several communities in the region and across the world, he added.
Criticizing former colonialists and their "voluntary" slaves, he said eradicating terrorism was crucial to prevent a retreat to colonialism.