Turkey conducts "the most humanitarian operation in the world" in Syria, says interior minister

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Saturday said Turkey had been conducting "the most humanitarian operation in the world" since the Turkish army's incursion in Syria began, the country's state-run Anadolu Agency reported

"We are conducting the most humanitarian operation of the world. In Jarablus, in Azaz, in al-Bab, with our gendarmerie, police, soldier, teacher, judge, prosecutor, doctor, today we are trying to tell how peaceful life would be established within 2,000 square kilometres," said Soylu. Turkey's operation into northern Syria is unique on the grounds of setting a "state tradition", he added. 

Speaking in a conference in the northwestern province of Trabzon, Soylu also commented on the upcoming local elections of March 31. The minister accused the main opposition party of collaborating with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group waging decades-long war against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-rule, and Gülen movement, which Turkey designates as "terrorist organisations".

"Do you only see FETO and PKK, which are allied with the Republican People's Party (CHP) today? Great powers trying to take control of the region are behind them. There is a world that wants to manage the energy routes and Istanbul's third airport. There is a world that wants to reach out to the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and East Turkistan. We protect ourselves with a 50-gram-ballot paper," Soylu said.

The Turkish government calls the Gülen Movement, led by the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, as the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) and accuses it to be behind the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey. 

On the contrary to the minister's statements on the Turkish military's actions in Syria, Turkey has long been criticised by human rights organisations for widespread violations in the areas under its control. 

According to the Amnesty International report on Aug. 2, residents in northern Syria's Afrin are enduring a wide range of violations, mostly at the hands of Syrian armed groups that have been equipped and armed by Turkey. These violations include arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and confiscation of property and looting to which Turkey’s armed forces have turned a blind eye. Some of these groups, and Turkish armed forces themselves, also have taken over schools, disrupting the education of thousands of children.

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