UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY ERDOGAN
By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed a U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton's recent claim that Turkey “targets Kurds” in Syria.
"It is impossible to accept the message given by Mr. Bolton in Israel," Erdogan told ruling Justice and Development [AK] Party's parliamentary group.
"Claims that Turkey targets Kurds in Syria is dishonorable, ugly, vulgar and defaming," Erdogan said.
On Sunday, Bolton had said the U.S. will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t attack “Kurdish fighters,” referring to YPG/PKK terrorist group.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The PKK/YPG is its Syrian branch.
Turkey has said it is planning a counter-terrorist operation into Syria targeting the PKK/YPG, following two successful operations since 2016.
Also rebuffing Bolton's remarks, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Sunday dubbed Bolton’s claims as “irrational,” as the country is fighting Daesh and PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists.
Erdogan said Turkey is determined to eliminate "terror corridor" in northern Syria, adding that Turkey made no distinction between terrorist groups.
"For Turkey, there is no difference between PKK, YPG, PYD or Daesh," the president said.
He said Turkey's preparations to eradicate Daesh in Syria's north "together with other terrorist organizations are underway."
"Very soon we will act to neutralize terrorist groups in Syria. And we will take out other terror groups that might try to prevent us from doing this," Erdogan added.
He said Turkey has always respected its allies, adding that his country expects the same attitude from its allies.
- PKK in 'Yellow Vest' protests
Erdogan said PKK terrorists have also attended the ongoing Yellow Vest protests in France.
"There are PKK members among Yellow Vest protesters in France. I wonder if they have investigated it?," the president said.
The Yellow Vest protests, which started as a reaction to fuel tax hikes and evolved into a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron, have continued despite the government’s call for them to halt.
Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests -- dubbed the Yellow Vests -- have gathered in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.
Demonstrators held protests blocking roads and traffic, and also blocked the entrance and exits to many gas stations and factories across the country.
The protesters, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, have called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties.
Under pressure from the protests, Macron announced a raise in the minimum wage and also scuttled controversial fuel tax hikes.
At least 10 people died and more than a thousand others were wounded in the protests.