Erdoğan voices discomfort over some nations turning Syria into ‘arm wrestling’ arena


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.

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.

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.

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