Turkey’s military operation in Syria is not against any country or person but terror groups in general, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, in contrast to earlier remarks that Turkey’s objective was to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following.
“The aim of the Euphrates Shield Operation is no country or person but only terror organizations. No one should doubt this issue that we have uttered over and over, and no one should comment on it in another fashion or try to [misrepresent its meaning],” Erdoğan said at a 30th gathering with village chiefs at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Dec. 1.
On Nov. 29, Erdoğan sought to explain the reason for Ankara’s military offensive into Syria, saying: “We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason.”
Erdoğan referred to the ongoing Euphrates Shield Operation that was launched on Aug. 24, after Ankara and Moscow began new dialogue over the course of developments in Syria. Turkey said its aim was to secure the border from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to stop People’s Protection Unit (YPG) efforts to link its cantons in northern Syria.
Erdoğan’s remarks on Nov. 29 created unease in Moscow, as senior officials publicly criticized the Turkish government and expressed their demand for an explanation. The issue was also raised by Vladimir Putin, who talked to Erdoğan on the phone on Nov. 30 while the latter was chairing a National Security Council (MGK) meeting.
The two presidents discussed recent developments in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, the Kremlin and Turkish Presidency said in separate statements late Nov. 30. Earlier in the day, however, Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Erdoğan’s remarks had come as a surprise to Moscow and that they expected an explanation from Ankara.
“It is a very serious statement and one which differs from previous ones and with our understanding of the situation. We hope that our Turkish partners will provide us with some kind of explanation about this,” he said.
Erdoğan’s statement on the real intentions of the Turkish military came a day after these developments and as Turkish and Russian foreign ministers were holding a meeting in Antalya’s Alanya district.
Erdoğan directs criticisms at West
Erdoğan reiterated once again that Turkey had no eye on the soil of other countries, especially in Iraq and Syria, claiming that Western countries were disturbed because of Ankara’s regional policies. “They never care about the future of Syria, Iraq or Libya. Do they have oil? If yes, they are there,” he said.
Underlining that Turkey’s sole objective was to fight terror organization as neither Iraq nor Syria can deal with such groups, Erdoğan stated: “Turkey will continue its struggle against terror organizations even if it is completely abandoned. We are facing very serious obstacles stemming from Western countries. Some companies in Europe declare that they won’t sell military equipment to Turkey.”