President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that 4,123 terrorists had been neutralized since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria’s Afrin.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
“Turkey will maintain its presence and activities in Syria until Syrian lands become safe for everyone,” Erdoğan said.
The president also voiced discomfort over some countries which are turning Syria into an “arm wrestling” arena.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Turkey sets up camps for Syrians fleeing Eastern Ghouta
The Turkish Red Crescent has set up two more camps for those fleeing parts of Eastern Ghouta controlled by Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, an official from the aid agency said Wednesday. Kadir Akgunduz, the aid group’s Syria field coordinator, told Anadolu Agency that the camps, boasting a 500 and 1,200-person capacity respectively, were set up in the war-torn country’s cities of Azaz and Idlib.The number of camps will be increased, Akgunduz added.“As long as there is a need for camps, we will continue setting up camps,” he said.Apart from Turkish Red Crescent, other aid organizations are also helping people who are fleeing Eastern Ghouta, he added.According to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, Assad regime forces used toxic gas to strike targets in eastern Ghouta’s Douma district on Saturday, killing at least 78 civilians.Video: Civilians enjoy freedom after Turkey liberates Afrin
Syrian chemical attack
Commenting on the chemical attack in Syria, Erdoğan said he will speak to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin later on Thursday about the situation in Syria, a day after he spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that Ankara would continue its relations with both countries, and Iran.
Trump and U.S. allies are considering military action to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the reported poison gas assault on Saturday in the town of Douma, which had long had held out against a government siege.
The World Health Organization condemned the incident and said over 500 people from Douma had been treated for symptoms of gas poisoning.
Kremlin says Syrian crisis communications link with US in use
The Kremlin said on Thursday that a crisis communications link with the United States meant to avoid an accidental clash over Syria was being used by both sides as tensions mount over a possible U.S. strike on Russia’s Middle East ally.The Kremlin was speaking as British ministers planned to gather to discuss whether to join the United States and France in a possible military attack on Syria that threatens to bring Western and Russian forces into direct confrontation.Asked whether the so-called deconfliction line between the Russian and U.S. militaries for Syria was being used to avoid potential Russian casualties in the event of a U.S. strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:“The line is used and it is active. In general the line is used by both sides.”
Turkey’s global ties
The president said that Turkey has no intention of giving up its alliance with the U.S., partnership with Russia or cooperation with Iran.
“Relations with Iran, Russia and China are not an alternative to ties with the West,” Erdoğan said.