Mar 01 2018

Turkey committed to Afrin operation despite pressure – Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has dismissed calls for Turkey military forces in Afrin to abide by last weeks United Nation (U.N.) resolution calling for ceasefire in Syria, pledging the Afrin operation will continue to completion.

The Turkish military has been engaged in a large scale operation in Syria’s north-eastern Afrin region for over a month, aiming to wrest control of the area from Kurdish groups that it considers terrorists.

“We do not require anyone’s permission for this job. You cannot leave a dragon half-alive. That’s how this job will finish.” Erdoğan said at a press conference.

Erdoğan also denied French President Emmanuel Macron had specifically told him in a phone call, Monday, that the U.N. resolution covered all of Syria, including Afrin. “The news is not true.” he said, “Macron did not mention that kind of thing.”

His comments echo others coming from sources close to the Turkish President, but contradict a statement from Macron’s office, which says Macron impressed on his Turkish counterpart that the ceasefire be “fully respected” by all actors, including Turkey.

Erdoğan had hard words for the Czech Republic, which this week refused to extradite Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) to Turkey.  

“The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union. So does the EU still recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization? They do. Did we document and prove that YPG-PYD is associated with this terror organization? We did. Despite this, they freed one of the terror group’s leaders.” Erdoğan said, adding, “The decision to free him (Muslim) means that that they support terror.”

Asked about Manbij, a city in northern Syria currently under control of U.S. backed Kurdish groups that Turkey had threatened to attack, Erdoğan said, “Our attitude regarding Manbij his long been clear. There should not be a terrorist organization there. Who is the true owner of Manbic? Arabs. The proportion of Arabs among the inhabitants is 90-95 percent. But they were removed. Manbij should be handed over to its real owners.” He added, “We told Rex Tillerson (the U.S. Secretary of State) this. Manbij must be Manbij.”