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MIDEAST >Turkey has the right to conduct operations in Syria, elsewhere to combat terror threats: Erdoğan

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency

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Turkey has the right to conduct operations not only in Syria but also any other place in which there are terrorist organizations that target Turkey, said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“Turkey has every right to conduct operations in Syria and the places where terror organizations are nested with regards to the struggle against the threats that Turkey faces,” Erdoğan said Feb. 20, during the event “UNESCO City of Gastronomy: Gaziantep,” which was organized to celebrate the inclusion of Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep on the list of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the gastronomy category.

Erdoğan’s remarks came one day after he and U.S. President Barack Obama talked on the phone for more than an hour regarding the latest developments in Syria and Turkey. 

During his address on Feb. 20, Erdoğan said the situation had “absolutely nothing to do with the sovereignty rights of the states that cannot take control of their territorial integrity.”

“On the contrary, this has to do with the will Turkey shows to protect its sovereignty rights,” he said. “We except attitudes to prevent our country’s right [to self-defense] directly as an initiative against Turkey’s entity – no matter where it comes from.” 

Erdoğan said the point Turkey has reached is a place of self-defense and that no one had the right to restrict that right.

“The place where we have come is a point of self-defense. No one can restrict Turkey’s right to self-defense in the face of terror acts that have targeted Turkey; they cannot prevent [Turkey] from using it,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey has been shelling targets belonging to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in Syria since Feb. 13. 

Turkey and the U.S. differ on the designation of the PYD and YPG and relations between the two NATO allies have been tense for more than a month. While Turkey regards the two groups as a terrorist organization, the U.S. sees the PYD and YPG as an important partner in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. 

“Turkey will use its right to expand its rules of engagement beyond [responding to] actual attacks against it and to encompass all terror threats, including PYD and Daesh in particular,” Erdoğan said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL. 

His remarks came after a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish capital Ankara killed 28 people and wounded 61 others on Feb. 17.        

The Turkish government stated that the Ankara attack was carried out jointly by a YPG member – a Syrian national identified as 1992-born Salih Neccar – and PKK members. 

The YPG denied the attack, while the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed the attack, saying it was carried out by an operative named Abdülbaki Sönmez.

Erdoğan said that while Turkey was defending itself, they would treat anyone that stands in Turkey’s way as a “terrorist and treat them accordingly.”

“I especially want this to be known this way,” he added. 

Erdoğan also lashed out at countries where similar terror attacks have taken place, criticizing them for severely reacting to the attacks when it was their country at stake but “preaching only patience and resoluteness” when it comes to Turkey. 

This is “disingenuous,” Erdoğan said.

February/21/2016

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