ADDS MORE QUOTES FROM YILDIRIM
By Andac Hongur and Ismail Ozdemir
TEKIRDAG, Turkey (AA) - Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria's Afrin serves to liberate the oppressed people in the region, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday.
Addressing the ordinary congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the northwestern province of Tekirdag, Yildirim said: "This operation means liberation for our neighbors.
"It is an operation aimed at liberating Arabs, and our Kurdish and Turkmen brothers who have been moaning under oppression," he said.
The premier went on to say that the operation also served to eradicate "a terror belt, a terror state that imperialists have been trying to establish" along Turkey's borders.
He added that Turkey would not tolerate anyone "trying to cast a shadow over the operation by getting carried away with the propaganda perpetuated by terror groups".
Propaganda and perception management against the Turkish military began soon after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, with supporters of the PYD/PKK terrorist organization posting fake and distorted photographs on social media and falsely claiming they were from Afrin.
- Over 90 rockets fired
All the claims have been proven to be false, with the pictures turning out to have been taken long before the operation began.
Later in the northwestern Balikesir province, Yildirim said: “Some so-called humanitarian organizations ignored PYD/PKK and Daesh’s cruelty, massacres and tortures in the Afrin region and gave advice to Turkey: ‘Oh there shouldn’t be civilian massacre’. Who is doing the civilian massacre?”
He noted that more than 90 rockets fired by the PYD/PKK terrorist group in Syria had struck Turkey’s border provinces of Hatay and Kilis in the last 15 days. “Our civilians have lost their lives. We have had more than 100 injured.”
“If there is one country where civilians have suffered the most, it is Turkey,” the premier added.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
A total of 897 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since the operation began.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
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.
Since the start of the operation, the PYD/PKK has carried out cross-border attacks on Turkey by firing rockets on civilian neighborhoods, killing at least seven civilians and injuring 107 others including children.