UPDATES WITH MORE STATEMENT FROM KALIN
By Ilkay Guder and Aynur Ekiz
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday that no one can stand against clearing Syria of terrorist organizations.
Speaking during a live television broadcast about Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northern city of Afrin, Kalin said the military campaign was launched to secure Turkey’s borders and its citizens from terror threats.
"When it becomes an issue of our national security, Turkey fulfills the responsibilities [through] its own capabilities. It is our responsibility to save Turkish citizens and its borders. For this, we don’t need permission from anyone.
"The PKK or another terrorist organization can never come to a position to determine the destiny of Kurdish people in this area. Neither the Kurds nor the Turks nor the knowledge, history and conscience of these Anatolian lands permit this.
“Who can oppose the argument that the Syrian territory should be cleared of all terrorist elements? If someone opposes this, that means they have some other plan. In such a case, we will sit down and make a new assessment over that plan,” Kalin said.
He reiterated Turkey’s call on the U.S. administration to cut support to the PYD/PKK terrorist organization in Syria.
“Our expectation [of the U.S.] is actually very basic, simple, clear and concrete: To end [its] support of the YPG and PYD. When this is accomplished, then we will say this is [the guarantee] from the U.S. for us. Then let's talk about the current situation and future of Syria as well as the interests of the Syrian people.
"Our expectation from the U.S. administration is to completely cut their support to YPG and PYD. This is a solid guarantee. This is also a necessary step [to be] taken on the ground."
He said the Daesh threat in Syria has been eliminated, so there is no need for the U.S. to continue to support the PYD/PKK terrorist group.
- 'No contact with Assad regime'
"At the moment, there are two countries that have an impact on the [Bashar al-]Assad regime; one is Iran, the other is Russia. We're going to get the results on the field. We have to do it via their mediations.
"Our attitude toward Assad's future is clear. It is not possible for someone who has been so cruel and has been [responsible] for so much bloodshed to build the future of Syria.
"In this regard, we cannot agree with Russia and Iran. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot work with them. In Aleppo, in conflict zones, in Idlib and in other areas we have to work with them," said Kalin.
Kalin admitted that coming to a definitive solution in the upcoming summit in Sochi would prove challenging, mostly due to the multiple issues on the table.
Sochi is the designated venue of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress set for Jan. 29-30. The congress is expected to be attended by all sectors of Syrian society except for terror groups.
Kalin also welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement on working with Turkey to create a security zone in Syria.
"Mr. Tillerson's [Tuesday] statement can be seen as a positive message, but we need to see the details,” Kalin said, noting that Turkey had long been speaking about a security zone in Syria.
“He [Tillerson] said 'We can work together with Turkey’. Okay, we have no objection to that. What are the parameters of this work? We need to see these things," Kalin added.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the ongoing operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians 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 also said the "utmost importance" is being put on not harming civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.