Op-ed by Dr. Adnan Altay Altinors
Consul General of Turkey in Hyderabad
HYDERABAD October 11, 2019 (RAHNUMA) Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” on October 9th, 2019, to ensure its border security, neutralize terrorists in the region and save Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of these terrorists.
Turkey no longer tolerates the presence of terrorists at its borders. Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts in Syria will contribute to the territorial integrity and unity of Syria by disrupting separatist agendas.
Protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is the top priority of Turkey. The threat of terrorism to Turkey originating from Syria is not limited to DEASH. Over the last two years, especially from the east of river Euphrates, Turkey has been exposed to more than hundred cases of attacks or hostile acts by PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK which is designated as a terrorist organization by the EU and NATO.
The operation is being carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with the right of self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council resolutions. Turkey informed the United States and other Allies who have a military presence in the region about the operation in a timely manner.
Channels of military deconfliction remain open and functional. Immediate steps to inform the international community on the background, legal basis and goals of this operation were also taken by Turkey.Turkey has a proven track record in contributing to counter-terrorism efforts in Syria. As was the case with previous operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, only terrorist elements and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment will be targeted during the planning and execution phases of the operation.
PYD/YPG has perpetrated terrorist attacks also within Syria and against Syrians. Northwest Syria is a particular case in point. More than 200 cases of attacks and killing or wounding of scores of civilians took place. PYD/YPG-affiliated elements assumed responsibility in these cases without hesitation.
Turkey has shared repeatedly its expectations and sensitivities regarding the PYD/YPG threat with its Allies, especially the US. However, the talks with the US on the establishment of a safe zone in the northern Syria has remained inconclusive. Several promises made by the US have not been fulfilled.
Turkey intends to continue the operation until all terrorists have been wiped out of the region, its border security has been ensured, and local Syrians have been liberated from the tyranny of PYD/YPG as well as the DEASH threat.
The operation also aims to facilitate safe and voluntary returns of displaced Syrians. A safe zone, free from terror will encourage these Syrians, including more than 300 thousand Syrian Kurds taking refuge in Turkey, to voluntarily return to their homes. In fact, Turkey has best practices in terms of liberating areas from terrorism and facilitating safe and voluntary returns of Syrians. In northwest Syria, more than 360 thousand Syrians returned from Turkey to their homes in areas cleared of terrorists by Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch.
Turkey has no plans whatsoever to modify the demographic structure in the operation area. It is the other way around. The operation will give a chance to at least one million displaced. Syrians, including Kurds, Arabs, Christians alike, to return to their ancestors’ lands after having been subject to ethnic cleansing by PYD/YPG.
Turkey has always been at the forefront of the efforts to combat DEASH. It will remain so. The future of detained DEASH terrorists is of paramount importance for Turkey. The issue of foreign terrorist fighters can be effectively dealt with only by collective action by the international community. The only sustainable solution is repatriation of all foreign terrorist fighters by their countries of origin.