UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM DEPUTY PM
By Kerem Kocalar
KILIS, Turkey (AA) - Turkey has launched Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin to fight against PYD/PKK and Daesh terror groups, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag said on Monday.
Talking to reporters in border province of Kilis after a meeting with representatives of political parties as well as nongovernmental organizations, Akdag said: “The Republic of Turkey, through rights enshrined under international law, has launched this campaign to fight against terror organizations PYD/YPG and Daesh, [as well as] to protect both our country and brothers in neighboring country."
He spoke about the impact of violence in Syria on Turkish province of Kilis.
“A number of [terror] attacks have targeted Kilis before this operation began. Terror organizations have hurt the lives of people in Kilis as well as their property.”
The deputy premier said Turkey is a powerful country and will not allow this to happen.
He also said compensation would be given to those whose houses or workplaces had been damaged by rocket attacks.
Later in the day, Akdag visited a neighborhood hit by rocket attacks in Kilis.
He said civilians were being targeted by the terrorist group. “Places where rockets have hit are totally civilian areas.
- Operation not against Kurds
“We need to bring all Western journalists here and show this cruelty.”
Akdag rejected western media claims the operation in Afrin was against Kurds.
“It is not possible for us to distinguish between our brothers, whatever their ethnic origins are, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, or Turkmen.
“We are all brothers.”
On Saturday, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria’s 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.
The operation was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said "utmost importance" was being given to not harm any civilian.
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 putting up a fight.