President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fiercely criticized Western countries for opposing Turkey’s anti-terror operation in Syria, saying that the country is entitled to protect its borders and has been voicing its concern about the matter since 2015 but the former has turned a blind eye to its legitimate concerns, leaving Turkey with no choice but to take matters into its own hands.
Speaking to district governors at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Erdoğan said the issue of the safe zone has been on Turkey’s agenda since the Obama administration, therefore it does not make sense for Western leaders to oppose it and treat it as if Turkey has just introduced it now.
He criticized western countries for opposing its Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria, which aims to clear the PKK-linked People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists from the border.
“We receive with a bitter smile the attempt of those who are responsible for the deaths of 50 million people in World War II to give us a lesson in humanity,” the president said.
Erdoğan noted that Turkey will resettle around 1 to 2 million refugees in the areas liberated from the terrorists under the scope of a project supported by the international community.
“We are immediately making contacts regarding this project,” Erdoğan said.
“Turkey works with allies and informs relevant parties before taking steps out of diplomatic courtesy but does not need anyone’s permission to annihilate a terror corridor built along its borders,” Erdoğan said, as he expressed Turkey’s determination to clear its borders regardless of international support.
“If YPG terrorists appear in the Syria safe zone after the 150-hour withdrawal period, Turkey will use its right to crush them,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey will implement its own plans for an operation if they don’t withdraw in line with the Sochi deal.
Turkey and Russia on Tuesday reached an agreement in Sochi to establish a safe zone near the Turkish border in Syria to eliminate the terror threat. The deal also aims to facilitate the voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homes. 140 villages and 10 district centers will be established within the 30- to 40-kilometer deep safe zone in northern Syria, housing 5,000 and 30,000 inhabitants each, respectively.