UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF ERDOGAN
By Burak Bir, Dilara Hamit and Gozde Bayar
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that they received the biggest support for Turkey's Operation Peace Spring from Syrian Kurds.
"Our operation is not targeting the Kurds," Erdogan said in Istanbul.
He went on to say that Turkey will not allow the establishment of a terrorist state in northern Syria.
The ongoing military operation has killed 440 terrorists, injured 26 and captured 24, the president added.
"So far, there have been 652 mortar and rocket attacks on [Turkey's] provinces of Sanliurfa, Mardin, Sirnak and Gaziantep fired by the YPG/PKK terrorists," Erdogan said.
He noted that 18 civilians -- most of them children -- were martyred in PKK attacks on Turkey's border provinces and 147 people were injured.
Separately, he dubbed as “disinformation” the reports that claimed the Daesh detainees have fled prisons in northern Syria.
He stressed that Turkey assumed the responsibility of more than 7,000 foreign fighters and sent a large number of them back to their country of origins.
“Of course, they [PYD terrorist organization] are doing it deliberately. It is actually a disinformation. They want to provoke the U.S. or the West by doing it so,” Erdogan said in a meeting with chief editors of media outlets at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.
Referring to reports in which PYD said a total of 785 Daesh detainees fled prisons, Erdogan said he has talked about this issue with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We meet with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin within 24 hours if there is any problem. We take the necessary steps together,” he added.
Erdogan reiterated that his country “has no eye on Syrian territory.”
Referring to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) president's remarks on Turkey’s operation, he said the Turkish Cypriot leader’s comments are “disrespectful.”
TRNC leader Mustafa Akinci had invited Turkey to hold a dialogue with terrorist organizations.
Turkey on Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorists there and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear the region east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.