Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts do not target any specific ethnicities in northern Syria, but focus solely on the terror groups, the defense minister said on Sunday.
Hulusi Akar’s remarks came at the 19th Doha Forum held in Qatar where he delivered remarks on international efforts against terrorism and its impacts on the political environment.
He also spoke about the Turkish government’s fight against terror groups Daesh/ISIS and the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group.
“We don’t have any problems with Kurds or any other ethnicity,” Akar said, adding terror groups like YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists -- were Turkey’s only concern.
Stating that terrorism gave birth to unprecedented political and social consequences, Akar said it also paved the way for radical ideologies, collapsed states, proxy wars, conflicts and mass migration.
He noted that extremist groups not only posed a threat to their own countries but also harmed the international community.
Akar went on to say that every weapon given to the YPG was transferred to the PKK, which has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for decades killings tens of thousands of people.
The Turkish defense chief stressed that Ankara warned the international community not to wage a war on Daesh terrorists through the use of another terror group, the YPG/PKK.
Referring to Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria, dubbed Peace Spring, he said the operation was based on the 1998 Adana agreement – which was struck by Turkish and Syrian governments as a result of the former’s terror concern.
He stressed that Turkey did not seek to change the demographic structure in the region, or perform an ethnic cleansing on Kurds -- contrary to what has been depicted by some Western media outlets -- but only aimed to combat terror elements.
Instead, Akar said, Turkey only aims to protect all civilians regardless of their ethnic background, the region and the civilian infrastructure in Syria.
“We repaired a hospital and water reservoir damaged by the YPG/PKK,” he said, adding Turkish security units have still been clearing the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left by the terror group.
He noted a recent survey held in northeastern Syria showed most of the participants supported Turkey’s operation in the region.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
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