President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Turkey wants to become one of the top democracies and economies in the world.

Speaking at an opening ceremony of 80 schools and 59 school gymnasiums in Istanbul, Erdogan said: “Our dream is to make Turkey one of the top 10 countries in terms of democracy and economy.

“As Turkey grows, develops and strengthens, the nature and the size of the problems we encounter changes accordingly. Our work is not easy.”

The president also said 3,872 terrorists had been “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin region.

About his meeting with Turkish soldiers on Sunday in Hatay province bordering Syria, he said they did not show the slightest hesitation in carrying out their duties and remain ready to achieve their new goals. 

“You may hear new goals at any moment. Today, Turkey finds terror organization in their dens at the border and breathes down their necks.”

He said the terrorists could run but they could not hide from Turkish forces.

“They [terrorists] are hiding, we are chasing them. What happened? They ran off to Syria, to Afrin, to Sinjar,” Erdogan said. 

Baghdad warned 

He added that the Baghdad administration had been warned that Ankara would act if it did not act against the terror groups.

“If you can deal with them, deal with them, or else we will come to Sinjar and deal with them. We do not ask for permission from anyone, nor do we look into anyone’s eyes for all this.”

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin, northwestern Syria, near Turkey's border, amid growing threats from the region.

On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the terrorist organization PYD/PKK since 2012.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to not harm civilians.

The PKK first established a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 on the pretext that it was “protecting” the local Ezidi community from the Daesh terrorist group.

The Turkish president also offered the Iraqi government the option to launch a joint military operation against the terror group, noting that Sinjar had become an alternative to Qandil, the so-called headquarters of the PKK terror group.