– Operation will not be limited to Afrin, Binali Yildirim says
Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northwestern Syria, will continue until terror groups in the region are completely wiped out, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at National Defense University in Istanbul, Yildirim said: “This operation based on international law and our legitimate rights will continue to the end. [Giving] any day or date [when it will end] is out of the question here.”
The operation will end after “the complete wiping out and neutralization of terror organizations,” he added.
Yildirim reiterated that the operation would not be limited to Afrin. “Wherever there is terrorism, they will be our target.”
“Turkey has never had designs on any country’s soil and in the future we never will either,” he said.
“There is no other country which places as much importance on regional and global peace as Turkey.”
Turkey’s 81 million people back the soldiers in the operation, he said.
A total of 2,295 YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists have been “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Friday.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
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 that “utmost care” is being taken to avoid harming civilians.
– Fight against FETO
Turning to FETO, the terrorist group behind the 2016 defeated coup, Yildirim said: “72 percent of our commissioned officers, whom we entrusted our country’s security to … fell into the trap of this organization [FETO] and became a part of its actions.”
“Considering this desperate situation, we’ve taken necessary steps and decisions immediately. One of the most important steps is [establishing] the National Defense University,” he said.
The university was founded on July 31, 2016, just weeks after the July 15 defeated coup attempt, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
The university is the Turkish Armed Forces’ highest-level training and specialization body, Yildirim noted.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated 2016 coup.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
– Defense industry
The premier also stressed the importance of national technology, information, and experience, calling these “the most important factors for the nation’s national security.”
“In the last 15 years, we’ve made $35 billion in investments in the defense industry and we’ve become a country which exports defense products.”
“Our state is offering every kind of technological facility to the Turkish Armed Forces and will continue to do so,” he added.