UPDATES WITH MORE ERDOGAN REMARKS; OTHER EDITS
By Sibel Ugurlu and Sorwar Alam
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey’s president said on Monday that Turkey is not eyeing Syrian territories and that the ongoing operation in Afrin will end as soon as its objectives are met.
"Turkey has no design on the territories of another country. The operation in Afrin will end when its aims are fulfilled, like Operation Euphrates Shield," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an awards ceremony in the capital Ankara, referring to a successful cross-border operation that ended last March.
The president said the current Operation Olive Branch is not aimed at Kurds but instead targets terrorists in the region.
“It is very clear that we do not have any problem with our Kurdish citizens; it is also not a matter of a Kurdish corridor.
"The incident is a matter of destroying the terrorist corridor” in Syria, he added.
“The main purpose of this operation is to contribute to the safety of life and property of Syrian people as well as the territorial integrity of Syria, along with Turkey’s national security,” he said.
He also criticized the U.S. State Department urging Turkey to limit the operation’s scope and duration.
“Then I ask the U.S.: Did you have any specific time duration in Afghanistan, when will it end? You entered Iraq before we came to power [in 2003], has the time duration ended in Iraq, you are still there.”
U.S. forces entered Afghanistan in October 2001, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and remain there to this day.
“When the work is finished -- we have no desire to stay there -- we know how to withdraw. We also have no intention of getting permission from anyone for this,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan said those who criticize Turkey for its operation in Afrin “aren’t worrying about the future of Syrians or solutions for the problems of Syrians."
"Nobody knows when the rockets targeting Reyhanli yesterday will target which European or American city tomorrow,” he added, referring to a border city in Hatay, Turkey, which has been targeted by cross-border terrorist attacks.
"It will soon be seen when the oppression of the terror groups is eliminated, that the Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen people will thank us,” Erdogan said.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.