Turkey's 'Operation Peace Spring' explained

World | Peyami Kalyoncu 14 Oct 2019

Peyami Kalyoncu, Consul General of Turkey in Hong Kong

To start with, let me be straightforward. Turkey's current "Operation Peace Spring" is not against Kurds, as reflected particularly by certain western media outlets. This biased assertion is profoundly unfair. Turkey has legitimate security concerns and this operation aims at fully eliminating terrorism originating from Syria.

Being a committed member of the Global Coalition against DEASH, Turkey determinedly fights against DEASH with boots on the ground. Until now, including our previous operations in 2017 and 2018 in northwest Syria (Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch), we have neutralized more than 4.000 DEASH terrorists on our own. The threat of terrorism originating from Syria and targeting our borders is not limited to DEASH.

During the last two years, especially from the east of River Euphrates, we have been exposed to hundreds 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.

PYD/YPG has perpetrated terrorist attacks also within Syria and against Syrians. PYD/YPG-affiliated elements assumed responsibility in these cases without hesitation. Just a few days ago, a mortar attack by PYD/YPG killed six innocent civilians in a Turkish town near our border with Syria, including a nine - month-old baby.

Our expectations and sensitivities regarding the PYD/YPG threat have been repeatedly shared with our Allies. However, until now PYD/YPG fortifications were not destroyed, yet even PYD/YPG built new ones. Their heavy weapons were not taken back.

Turkey could no longer tolerate the presence of terrorists at her borders. We were compelled to take our destiny into our hands.

The main objectives of this operation is to ensure Turkey's border security, neutralize terrorists in the region and save Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of these terrorists. 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.

Like our previous operations, only terrorist elements and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment will be targeted during all phases of this operation.

Turkey is committed to Syria's territorial integrity and unity. Turkey intends to continue the operation until all terrorists have been wiped out of the region, our border security has been ensured, and local Syrians have been liberated from the tyranny of PYD/YPG as well as the DEASH threat. The Syrian National Coalition, the Syrian Interim Government, the Independent Kurdish Association, as well as tribal leaders have expressed support for the operation.

Thanks to Turkey's efforts, in northwest Syria, more than 360,000 Syrians voluntarily returned from Turkey to their homes in areas cleared of terrorists by Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch. "Operation Peace Spring" will give a chance to at least one million displaced Syrians, including Kurds, Arabs, Christians alike, to return to their homes and ancestors' lands after having been subject to ethnic cleansing by PYD/YPG. And last but not least, protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is our top priority.

As has been clearly stated by our President, Turkey's mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border and bring peace to the area.

"Operation Peace Spring" will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, including more than 300 thousand Syrian Kurds taking refuge in Turkey, to their homes.

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