Turkish PM vows to clear terrorists east of Euphrates

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Turkey will clear terrorists from the east of Euphrates just like the Turkish army did in this river's west, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Thursday.

"The western part of the Euphrates has been cleared. Its east will be the same as well. There's no other way. We can never live next to terror. We don't allow this," Yildirim said.

The premier was in the Black Sea province of Giresun to attend a political rally.

"We have carried out Operation Euphrates Shield and Afrin Operation. These were not small tasks. Thanks to Allah we shattered the circle of terror, which was trying to establish itself on our southern borders," Yildirim said.

Operation Euphrates Shield took place from August 2016 to March 2017 to eliminate terror threats along the Turkish border.

Yildirim added the Manbij issue surfaced thanks to Turkish insistence.

Turkish and American officials have outlined a roadmap for cooperation on Manbij, northern Syria, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Turkey and the U.S. have established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including stabilization of Manbij and to prevent any undesirable clashes, following the visit of former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to capital Ankara in February.

Manbij, a YPG/PKK-held city, has caused friction in Turkish-U.S. ties, with Turkey rejecting the U.S. working with the terrorist YPG/PKK, demanding the group’s withdrawal.

U.S. military support for the terrorist group in Manbij has strained ties between Ankara and Washington, and has led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies, since there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the city.

This January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northern Syria to clear terrorist groups from the area. After liberating the city of Afrin, Ankara said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij, unless the YPG/PKK terrorist group leaves the strategically located city.

Strong parliament

Speaking at a fast-breaking event in northern Ordu province, Yildirim said: “We need a strong parliament, [and] a strong government in order to survive in these soils and to spoil the planned games being played in our country, in our region.”

Underlining the importance of the June 24 elections for “children’s bright future,” he said: “We will either realize the change and walk towards big targets or as the opposition said, we will make no progress and will go back by stopping all the investments.”

The premier said the parliamentary system had created problems, coup and tutorship. “It consumed Turkey’s energy and we lost time.”

If the AK Party enters the parliament in a strong way and Erdogan wins, "bureaucracy will further accelerate and things will further accelerate," he said.

Turkey will vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Erdogan has served as president since 2014 — Turkey's first popularly-elected president. Before that, he served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014.



Should he win the June 24 elections, Erdogan would be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system, which does away with the prime minister's post, among other changes.


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