Turkey ready to run Kabul airport if conditions met: Minister
Turkey has done its best for the safety and prosperity of the Afghan people, the minister said, speaking at a military ceremony.
Reiterating that the country has been working for 20 years to bring peace to Afghanistan, Akar stated that Turkey has been operating the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul for the last six years and wants to continue managing the airport to support Afghans.
“If the conditions are met, we are willing to run this airport to meet the security, peace and necessities of our Afghan brothers, to support our Afghan brothers. Our discussions are ongoing on the matter,” he stated.
Ankara has been running the military and logistic operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Turkey proposed to secure and manage the airport in Kabul after the NATO troops end its mission as a Resolute Support Mission in September.
The issue was also discussed at the NATO Leaders’ Summit held in Brussels, as well as at the tête-à-tête meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Ankara has asked the U.S. to meet the airport operating cost, which varies between $80 million and $130 million annually. Turkey also wants that some of the defense facilities of the U.S. military for the security of the airport to remain in Kabul and that the U.S. Army continues the logistics support. Ankara expects the mission should have an international statute.
Security forces eliminate 18,313 terrorists since July 2015
Akar also said that the Turkish Armed Forces have neutralized 18,313 terrorists since July 24, 2015, including 1,631 in Iraq and Syria since Jan. 1 this year.
"Turkish Armed Forces' story of heroism and sacrifice is not over, it continues. Mehmetcik (Turkish soldiers) continues to make history," Minister Hulusi Akar said at an oath-taking ceremony for Maroon Berets who have successfully completed their 47-week-long special training in Ankara.
Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and the second chief of the Turkish General Staff, Lieut. Gen. Selçuk Bayraktaroğlu, were also present at the ceremony.
Akar emphasized that the fight against terrorism, which began on July 24, 2015, has continued through the Claw operations.
The Claw operations are a series of military operations that Turkey launched in 2019 against terrorist organizations in northern Iraq, particularly the PKK.
The PKK terror group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey's southern border, to plot terror attacks.
Underlining that Turkey respects all of its neighbor’s borders, sovereign rights, and laws, including those of Iraq, Akar added that the country will continue to stand by its Libyan and Azerbaijani brothers in their just cause.