I would like to clarify some facts and concepts since your Tuesday editorial regrettably fails to reflect the truth as regards Turkey and its policies concerning the ongoing crisis in Syria as well as the fight against terrorism.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has supported efforts to end this conflict through a political solution and at the same time has remained sensitive to the human tragedy prevailing there. As a result, Turkey has over the past eight years hosted more than 3.5 million Syrians who escaped this conflict.
Seeking a political solution to the crisis, hosting millions, we have also been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism that ensued in the wake of this conflict. Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh and is co-chairing Counter-Daesh Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. Turkey is the only nation among the Coalition partners that has fought Daesh (aka the Islamic State terror group) on the ground in Syria.
However, Daesh is not the only terrorist organisation Turkey has been fighting. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has become a paramount national security concern for Turkey because of its activities in Syrian territory. The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by many countries and international organisations, among them the US, the EU and Nato. It has claimed the lives of more than 41,000 people since the 1980s, indiscriminately attacking civilians and security officers alike. The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces are dominated by the PYD/YPG, which is nothing but an extension of the terrorist PKK. They share the same leadership, organisational and military structure, modus operandi, strategies and tactics. PYD “congresses” are organised in PKK camps under the guidance of the PKK. It is all these terrorist organisations that Turkey’s counter-terror operations are directed against.
Thousands of Syrian Kurds have taken refuge in Turkey, escaping from areas held by the YPG, PKK’s Syrian affiliate, since the conflict broke out in the country. During operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, more than 4,000 square kilometres of land were cleared of terrorists. Subsequently, almost 300,000 Syrians have voluntarily returned from Turkey to these liberated areas.
Turkey is determined not to tolerate any terrorist activity against its national security, particularly along its southern borders, and will continue to exercise its right to self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Evren Dagdelen Akgun