Operation Peace Spring and Turkey's struggle against terrorism

By Esen ALTUĞ, Turkish Ambassador to Slovenia

As it is closely followed by the world public opinion, the war in Syria has led to the collapse of state authority in that country. And this authority vacuum created a breeding ground for various terrorist organizations, which have been trying to exploit this situation as an opportunity to realize their evil goals. The most important of those terrorist organizations are DEASH and PKK's Syria branch PYD/YPG. These two terrorist organizations pose threat not only to Syria and Syrians, but also to Turkey and to Europe.

There is a delusion in European public opinion that, PYD/YPG is a legitimate organization, since it has fought against DEASH. The fight between DEASH and PYD/YPG was a fight between two terrorist organizations, which wanted to control northern Syria. Fortunately, the international community has defeated DEASH with active contributions of Turkey. Actually Turkey has been the only country to fight against DEASH on the ground while others contributed only via air strikes. We neutralized more than 4.000 DEASH terrorists on our own.

Having defeated DEASH now it is time to fight against the other biggest terrorist organization in Syria, i.e. PYD/YPG, since the threat of terrorism originating from Syria is not limited to DEASH, but also PYD/YPG.

Since the beginning of war in Syria, PYD/YPG has perpetrated an ethnic cleansing in northern Syria. As everyone knows, Turkey is hosting around 4 millions of refugees mainly from northern Syria, who fled from the terror and ethnic cleansing of PYD/YPG.

As Turkey we are contributing to the stability and territorial integrity of Syria, our centuries old neighbor and friend. We have thousands of citizens with Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish ethnic background and Muslim and Christian religious background, who have relatives in Syria. No country in the world can care about Syria's well-being more than Turkey. Therefore we are committed to eliminate all kinds of terrorist structures in Syria, including DAESH and PYD/YPG. And by doing so, Turkey is not only defending its national security, but also security of Europe too.

Having successfully concluded Operation Euphrates Shield in 2017 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018, Turkey cleared an area over 4.000 km2 from DEASH and PYD/YPG terror, allowing more than 360.000 Syrians to return to their homes in this area.

However, the threat of terrorism originating from Syria has not yet ended. During the last two years, Turkey has been exposed to over 200 cases of terrorist attacks by PYD/YPG, Syrian branch of PKK terrorist organization. That is why we have launched "Operation Peace Spring".

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

The operation is carried out on the basis of the international law, in accordance with our right to self-defense as outlined in Article 51 of the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council resolutions 1373(2001), 1624(2005), 2170(2014) and 2178(2014), 2249(2015) and 2254(2015) and in full respect of Syria's territorial integrity and unity.

As was the case with Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, only terrorist elements and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment are targeted.

We intend 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.

Our 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 subjected to ethnic cleansing by PYD/YPG.

Following the launch of our military operation, DEASH terrorists detained by PYD/YPG were released to fight against Turkey. This fact clearly shows the collaboration between DEASH and PYD/YPG.

I would like to tell two things to our Slovenian friends. Firstly, please do not fall to the delusion of the propaganda that only DEASH is a terrorist organization and PYD/YPG is a legitimate actor and even the representative of Kurdish people in Syria. PYD/YPG is a terrorist organization as evil and ferocious as DEASH. Their motivations are different but their brutality, barbarity, murderousness and bloodthirstiness are the same. We do not have to favor one terrorist organization over another. In fact, it is our moral obligation to fight and stand against all forms of terrorism and support struggle against it.

Secondly, we want all our friends and all people, who stand with human pride against terrorism to know that, Turkey will not tolerate the presence of terrorists at its borders, which are also borders of Europe. We are determined to provide security in our region. We are ready and powerful to fight against terrorism, until no single individual is left under the tyranny terrorists.