ADDS REMARKS FROM US, TURKEY'S PRESIDENTS, BACKGROUND INFO; CHANGES DECK
By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Washington moved its 50 troops out of areas in Syria facing imminent Turkish operation.
"Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East," Trump said on Twitter and added: "Moved our 50 soldiers out".
In an apparent criticism of European countries, Trump said that Turkey will be responsible for all Daesh fighters captured in the area that "Europe refused to have returned".
"The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!" he said.
Trump stressed that the U.S. has spent $8 trillion fighting and policing in the Middle East, and added that thousands of American soldiers have died or badly wounded, while millions of people have died on the other side.
"GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!" he said.
"We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE!" Trump explained as the reason of bringing American troops home.
"Our focus is on the BIG PICTURE! THE USA IS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!" he added.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over a phone call on Wednesday operations that will take place in east of Euphrates will bring peace and stability to Syria and also pave the way of political process in the country.
- Operation Peace Spring
Turkey is ready to launch 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 2 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.