Syria has censured Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest remarks concerning his keenness to protect Syrian people and their rights as far from reality, emphasizing that the Damascus government will respond to Turkey’s offensive into the northeastern part of the country through all available legal means.
“After his continuous support for terrorism in Syria, training, arming, protecting and sending terrorists to kill Syrians, the head of the Turkish regime came up today with statements that can only be made by a person detached from reality. He speaks of his commitment to protect Syrian people whilst he has the blood of the Syrian people killed by terrorists on his hands,” Syria’s official news agency SANA cited an unnamed source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates as saying in a statement on Thursday.
“The task of protecting Syrian people lies with the Syrian Arab Army and the Syrian state, and no one else,” the source pointed out.
On Wednesday, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants from the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
The YPG constitutes the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
Erdogan said on Thursday that 109 “terrorists” had been killed since the start of the incursion.
“We have a message to those who were forced to join the YPG ranks: If you leave now… our arms are wide open,” the Turkish leader further said.
Ankara says one of its goals in the cross-border incursion is to form a “safe zone” to which at least one million refugees from the Arab country can return, after the years-long presence of refugees in Turkey became an increasingly political liability.
“For those who want to return to their country but don’t have a home left anymore, we plan to build settlements for one million people, with international financing,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish military had launched two cross-border incursions in northern Syria, namely “Euphrates Shield” in August 2016 and “Olive Branch” in January 2018 with the declared aim of eradicating Kurdish militants and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.