PKK’s presence in northern Syria a threat: Turkish PM

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    The PKK terrorist organization’s presence in Syria’s northern Manbij region is a threat to Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said late Friday.

    Yildirim made the remarks during a guest appearance on a local TV program.

    "For us, the PKK’s presence in Manbij is a threat, a security issue, and must absolutely be resolved," he said.

    Yildirim said Turkey wants the PKK and its Syrian extensions the PYD and YPG to leave Manbij as the region's native inhabitants are Arabs, Turkmen and people from other ethnic groups.

    "In this region, the PKK is making life miserable for residents. We say to the U.S. that this region should be cleared of terrorists. If they don't do this, we will do what is needed in terms of security,” he said, adding he hopes another Afrin operation won't be needed.

    "Because the U.S. is there, Russia and other coalition forces are there as well. We don't want to cause any tensions within NATO. That's why first of all, we want to solve this issue with the U.S. But for us, the PKK’s presence in Manbij is a threat, a question of security which must be solved, and it will be solved somehow."

    The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015.

    Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including women and children.

    On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu referred to the Manbij model — Ankara's plan to eradicate the YPG/PKK terror groups from region with U.S. cooperation.

    "We will implement the Manbij model in other parts of Syria, especially east of the Euphrates [River], after the approval of this roadmap. Thus, we will have taken a step together on an issue that causes tensions in bilateral relations," Cavusoglu said.

    In a March interview with Anadolu Agency, Cavusoglu said that should the plan fail, Ankara would unilaterally take steps to "eliminate" the PKK-linked YPG from the Syrian border.

    On Friday, Cavusoglu recalled that the U.S. had promised not to provide arms to the YPG terrorist group and to withdraw American forces from Manbij.

    Cavusoglu said Turkey would work with the U.S. in Manbij.

    Turkey shatters dreams of terror supporters

    Yildirim attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at insurance firm Allianz's campus in Izmir province earlier Friday.

    During the event, he said Turkey is teaching lessons to those who are trying to divide and split the country both domestically and abroad.

    He said some countries that Turkey sees as friends are trying to form a terrorist encirclement on the country's Syrian and Iraqi borders, but they miscalculated because with the cross-border anti-terror operations under Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch, Turkey broke up this encirclement and shattered their dreams.

    Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 this year to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin, northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.

    On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrin’s town center, which had been a major hideout for YPG/PKK terrorists since 2012.

    Turkey’s other cross-border operation, Operation Euphrates Shield, was conducted from August 2016 to late March 2017 in order to support coalition forces and eliminate terror threats along the Turkish border.

    Yildirim added that everyone should know that Turkey is not an enemy of anyone, but it gouges out the eyes of those who set their sights on Turkish land, the country’s flag and damaging the nation’s unity.

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