Erdoğan: No ‘terror corridor’ inside Syria
AA photoAnkara will never permit the establishment of a “terror corridor” in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed, while denying statements from the U.S. that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) had withdrawn to the east of Euphrates.
“Nobody should expect that we’ll agree to the establishment of a terror corridor along our southern border in northern Syria,” Erdoğan said at a press conference ahead of his departure to China late on Sept. 1 for a G-20 meeting.
He stressed that the international community did not have to choose between “Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL], the YPG [People’s Protection Units] or PYD terrorist organizations.”
“There are no differences between these terrorist organizations in terms of method, targets and points of view regarding human life,” Erdoğan said, adding that Ankara viewed “statements from some circles from the West with astonishment.”
Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched Aug. 24, “aims at improving security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the terror threat” along Turkey’s border through Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters backed by Turkish armor, artillery and jets.
In the operation, Turkish forces and Turkey-backed FSA forces took Jarablus back from ISIL.
“Those who act with the logic of ‘the enemy of Daesh is our friend’ are deluded and in a position of being a friend to other terror organizations,” Erdoğan said.
“It’s not possible to understand this situation. As Turkey, we take responsibility with our military to maintain the security of civilians in the region,” he added, vowing to continue with the operation with the cooperation of the international coalition and other actors.
“[The operation aims] to clear Jarablus and the surrounding region of terrorist organizations, especially Daesh, and aims to contribute to regional security and peace,” Erdoğan said.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Sept. 1 that ISIL in Syria was about to lose access to Turkey’s porous border, which is a vital step in blocking foreign fighters from replenishing the jihadists’ thinning ranks.
According to Davis, ISIL now retains control of only about 25 kilometers of border with Turkey along an area to the east of the small Syrian town of al-Rai.
“This is the only area with which ISIL has free communication with the outside world, where it touches a border,” Davis was quoted as saying by AFP.
“This is about to be closed. We are very close to achieving this.”
ISIL has lost ground in the key region as a result of Turkish operations that began last week.
The United States is working frantically to ensure fighters from the YPG are not further attacked by Turkey, and has encouraged them to move east of the Euphrates River and away from Jarablus and another key city to the south, Manbij.
“We have not seen any action [between the Turks and YPG] in probably three days,” Davis said.
Erdoğan on Sept. 2 dismissed U.S. officials’ statements that the YPG has returned east of the Euphrates River, saying Turkey’s sources of information show that the group had not returned east of the Euphrates.
“They are saying the YPG has crossed back. We are saying, no, they haven’t, based on our own observations,” Erdoğan said.
The mostly Kurdish YPG is part of a broader U.S.-backed coalition in Syria, called the Syrian Democratic Forces. Washington has supported the group in its battle against ISIL but Ankara sees it as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces said on Sept. 2 that they hit three ISIL targets in northern Syria as part of the Euphrates Shield.
The military said in a statement that Turkish jets struck three buildings used by the terrorists in two towns near the Turkey-Syria border.
Jets hit the targets around midday local time on Sept. 2, the army said.