Turkish army will not leave Syria before others: Erdoğan
Hande Fırat - ANKARA
The Turkish army will not quit Syria before the troops of other countries leave the war-torn country, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, stressing that Turkey faces security risks as it has borders with this country.
“We won’t quit before the last terrorist leave the region. This is one dimension of the issue. Secondly, we will not quit before other countries leave. We are in favor of Syria’s unity and solidarity. We never want it disintegrated,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists on Nov.8 on his way back from Hungary when asked if Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring” would continue.
If the other nations deployed there also defend the integrity of Syria, “they have to prove it,” Erdoğan said, emphasizing that other countries do not even have borders with this country.
“Neither Russia, nor the U.S. or Iran,” he said. Turkey would keep this stance over the “authority given by the Adana Agreement unless the terror organizations are cleared,” he said, referring to a security deal with Syria which Ankara sees as a source of legitimacy for its Syria incursion.
Erdoğan stressed that the YPG has not left the regions in northern Syria covered by separate deals made with the U.S. and Russia.
Elaborating on the situation on the field regarding the deals with Russia and the U.S., Erdoğan said Turkey controls Tal-Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, but the YPG members are still in the region and harass Turkey’s borders.
The same situation applies to Manbij region and Ayn al-Arab, he said and added: The YPG attacks “when it gets the slightest opportunity.”
“For example, the terrorist organization attacked the Syrian National Army in Tel Tamer region yesterday morning and 11 people were killed. Of course, they [the Syrian National Army] did not leave it unreciprocated. They also killed more than 10 terrorists. The struggle continues in this manner with determination,” the president stated.
Erdoğan criticized the U.S. for conducting a joint patrol with the YPG from the east of Ras al-Ayn to Qamishli and said he would discuss all these issues with U.S. President Donald Trump.
He decided to have a face to face meeting with Trump for assessment of the developments after Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring” following a phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, the president said.
“Of course, we will discuss the issues of a safe zone in Syria and the return of refugees to their lands. We will discuss both the S-400, the F-35 issues and the $100 billion trade volume. We will also discuss the struggle against FETÖ and Halkbank,” Erdoğan said.
“We continue to experience many difficulties here,” he said, referring to several points of strain in bilateral ties with the U.S.
Erdoğan said that Trump asked him how the previous administrations handled the draft resolutions on Armenian claims.
“Some developments that would not fit into our strategic partnership with the United States seriously disturb us. We think this visit is very important to overcome this. There are efforts to intimidate us with the so-called Armenian bill and sanction threats. In the previous evening’s telephone conversation, I also felt that Mr. Trump was aware of this. He asked, ‘How has this ever happened?’ On this question, I said, ‘I have worked with Bush, and Obama in the same way. Now I’m working with you. At that time, they had sent [the draft resolutions on Armenian claims] to the commission and it was dismissed at the commission. Now they bypassed the commission and sent it to the congress. We are directly faced with such a situation.’ He said, ‘I’ll study it and talk to my colleagues’”.
The president also said he will give the letter back to Trump, which was sent to Erdoğan by the U.S. president. Erdoğan previously criticized the letter for not complying with diplomatic courtesy.
He will inform Trump also about YPG leader Ferhat Abdi Şahin, known also as Mazloum Kobane, about his role in various terror attacks in Turkey.
Erdoğan recalled that the Arab League is holding meetings against Turkey. One has to ask the members of the Arab League why they do not support the refugees in Turkey whom are mostly Arabs, he said.