Millions of Syrians living in Turkey will be able to return to their homeland after Ankara liberates Syria's Manbij, Tal Rifaat and the region East of the Euphrates River from terrorists, Turkish president said on Saturday.
“We are determined to save our region from disaster in cooperation with Russia, Iran, the U.S. and especially with Syrian people,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s presentation of mayoral candidates for the southeastern Gaziantep province.
He added that Ankara’s priority was to use the political and diplomatic means till the end.
Turkey has completed all preparation for a possible military operation East of the Euphrates in northern Syria which Ankara said would serve territorial integrity in the war-torn country.
Erdogan also said that around 300,000 Syrians have returned to their homeland, after Turkish operations cleared the area off terrorists.
“It’s our duty to protect the rights, laws and honor of our friends and brothers beyond our borders, as well as our citizens within our borders,” he noted.
Speaking about the Daesh terror group, Erdogan said Turkey is the only country that has concrete achievements in its fight against the organization.
“Turkey is the only country with concrete achievements in the fight against Daesh, the biggest enemy of Islam besides being a terrorist organization,” he said.
“We detained around 8,000 Daesh members, 2,300 of them remanded in custody over past 2 years,” according to Turkish leader.
“We’ve neutralized 3,000 Daesh members in [Syria’s] al-Bab alone,” he added.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region, including Al-Bab, Afrin and Azaz, of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled violence there to return home.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people. The YPG/PYD is the group's Syrian branch.