UPDATES WITH REMARKS OF FOREIGN MINISTER, VICE PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER, CHANGES HEAD, SPOT, LEDE
By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) - Operation Peace Spring is being carried out in accordance with international law, Article 51 of the UN Charter and UN Security Council Resolutions on fight against terrorism, Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday.
"This operation is being carried out in accordance with international law, Article 51 of the UN Charter and UN Security Council Resolutions on fight against terrorism," Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu's remarks came just after Turkish troops, Syrian National Army began Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists.
With the operation, the region will be cleared of terrorists, Syria’s border security and territorial integrity will be guaranteed, displaced people will be able to return safely to their homes and peace and safety will prevail in the region, he added.
Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said for his part: ''Our heroic army with Operation Peace Spring will secure our borders, bring peace and stability to east of the Euphrates and ensure Syrians return home safely.''
Mustafa Sentop, Turkish parliament speaker, said: ''Operation Peace Spring commenced by Turkey aims to ensure the stability of our region that the terrorist organizations desire to sentence to chaos.''
"Turkey is conducting an operation with the sole aim of achieving peace. By this operation, all the people of the region shall win," he added.
Sentop also said: ''Turkey has used all means of solution and negotiation against the threat of terror, but the terror groups formed in the south of Turkey have continued with their activities.''
"The sole purpose of the commenced operation is to eliminate the threat of terror against Turkey," he added.
Turkey on Wednesday announced launch of Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements, to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has said the terrorist group PKK and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.
Turkey has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and it has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle two million Syrians in a 30-km-wide (19-mi) safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terror groups such as the PKK, PYD, and YPG risk its formation.
Turkey has rid an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. 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.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and under the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
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.
* Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu, Cagatay Zontur and Dilara Hamit contributed to this report from Ankara