Turkey appreciates UK support for Afrin operation
LONDON – Anadolu Agency
Ankara appreciates the United Kingdom’s stance on Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in the northern Syrian district of Afrin, a senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official said on Feb. 21.
Speaking in London, AKP Deputy Chair Mehdi Eker said Turkey is not carrying out the offensive to “invade or stay in the region but to bring stability.”
“The operation is carried out to save civilians from oppression and torture of the terrorists in the region,” Eker said at a panel at the House of Commons hosted by the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) titled: “The war in Syria: Is the territorial integrity of Syria unfeasible now?”
Eker noted that around 100,000 people who fled Syria and took refuge in Turkey returned to their homes in a de-escalation zone cleared of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in the previous “Euphrates Shield Operation.”
“We would rather fight against terrorist groups together with our allies and partners in NATO and other international organizations. But we were left alone. We have taken action with our own troops,” he said.
“What is important in the fight against terrorism is that all states support a uniform approach against all terrorist groups,” he added.
Eker said Turkey’s border towns are under constant threat of terror, with militants trying to infiltrate the country from the region and terror groups using the area as a stepping stone to reach the Mediterranean Sea.
A statement by the U.K. government had said the U.K. recognized Turkey has a “legitimate interest in the security of its borders.”
Lord Mark McInness and the London-based Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) Middle East Studies researcher Michael Stephens also attended the panel organized by the UETD. UETD President Erdal Yetimova was also present at the event, along with many students and academics.