Turkish children in army uniform salute Erdoğan

Several Turkish children in military uniform saluted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a speech in parliament on Tuesday, photos by Reuters showed.

Erdoğan, speaking to his governing Justice and Development Party, focused his remarks on the ongoing military operation in Syria’s Afrin against Kurdish militants, saying Turkey would not halt an incursion into the country until all terrorists were killed. The children were permitted into the guest gallery.

Turkey’s military entered Afrin a month ago to battle Kurdish militants it says are indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an autonomy-seeking group in Turkey recognised as terrorists by the United States and European Union. The operation has ramped up political tensions with the United States, which has armed and trained the Syrian Kurds to fight Islamic State (ISIS).

Erdoğan has pledged to create a pious generation of Turks who adhere to conservative islamic values and nationalist ideals. His government has increased spending on religion -- the ministry of religious affairs now receives the most funding of any government department -- and Islamic education, opening scores of new religious schools and converting others from high schools to increase attendance.

As president, Erdoğan is also head of the military. He chairs regular meetings of the National Security Council, a body charged with taking measures to protect Turkey's security and law and order. He also issues presidential decrees under emergency rule introduced following a failed military coup in July 2016.