UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM ERDOGAN
By Kubra Chohan
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey’s president said on Saturday that the Turkish Armed Forces will not show mercy to those who attack its freedom, referring to terrorist groups.
“We are not against any state, we only want to secure our future and liberty,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the opening ceremony of the Kasimpasa-Haskoy Tunnel in Istanbul.
“We will embrace those who extend their friendly hand. We will break bread with those who ask for help.
“We will also show no mercy to those who try to harm our future and freedom,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan reiterated that the name of the terrorist group doesn’t matter, whether it is called FETO, Daesh, the PKK, PYD, or YPG, as Turkey will “roll over all of them."
The PKK -- recognized as a terrorist group by the EU, U.S., and Turkey -- has waged a three-decade war against Turkey, taking 40,000 lives in the process. The PYD/PKK and YPG/PKK are its Syrian branches.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) was behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, which martyred 250 people and left 2,200 injured.
Addressing the youth branch of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial congress in northwestern city of Kocaeli, Erdogan underlined Turkey’s decisive stance in fight against the terrorist organization.
- Operation Olive Branch
Erdogan noted that Turkey talked to Russia, the U.S., the U.K. and other European and regional countries on the course of the Operation Olive Branch.
"Our Foreign Ministry conducted these talks because, as you know, if you don’t express yourself in international community, you win in the arena but lose on the table, as it happened in the history,” Erdogan said, referring to the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
On Jan. 20, Turkey 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 the Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
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 has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and the "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.