Turkey’s goals are to protect its borders, prevent a terror corridor in northern Syria and ensure safe return of displaced Syrians, the country’s defense minister said on Monday.
Speaking at TRT World Forum, which kicked off in Istanbul, Hulusi Akar said, "As long as the YPG/PKK is active in Syria, neither that country nor the region can reach permanent peace, security and stability".
"The YPG/PKK can in no way represent our Kurdish and Syrian brothers and friends, just as Daesh does not and cannot represent Muslims," Akar stressed.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
"Our goals are to protect our borders, prevent a terror corridor in northern Syria, put an end to the presence of YPG/PKK, Daesh and all other terrorists in the north of Syria, and to establish a safe zone so as to enable two million displaced Syrians, including Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Ezidis, and Chaldeans, to voluntarily and peacefully return to their lands and homes," he added.
Akar blasted Turkey’s allies for supporting YPG/PKK during Turkey’s anti-terror push.
"In the meantime, regrettably and deplorably, YPG/PKK received substantial material support from our allies. Each weapon handed over to YPG/PKK ended up in the hands of the PKK ready to be turned on Turkey - a fellow NATO member," he said.
"With all those support YPG/PKK got from our allies, they increased atrocities against the local population of the region, including forced migration, confiscation of land and conscription of people, even children, against their will," he added.
"Those actions led to a change in the demography of the region and mass migration to Turkey. Of the 4 million refugees in Turkey, about half a million are Kurds who have fled the atrocities of YPG/PKK," he said.
Referring to Turkey’s recent deal with the U.S. on northern Syria, the defense minister said: "Implementation of the agreement is critical and we are watching closely to make sure all of the conditions are met. If the withdrawal is completed on time, the operation will be halted".