Turkey won’t let Syria safe zone be turned into 'swamp'

Mon 21 Jan 2019 12:36 GMT | 16:36 Local Time

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Ankara will never allow a safe zone in Syria to be transformed into "another swamp" against Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, Anadolu Agency reports.

"We can never allow an implementation of a safe zone [to be established in northern Syria] to be transformed into another swamp against our country," Erdogan said at a meeting of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan said Ankara was not against the formation of 30-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria near Turkey’s border, adding the aim of a safe zone should be to keep terrorist organizations away from Turkey's border.

The president said Turkey has “no eye” on Syria's territorial integrity, adding he will also discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow in the upcoming days.

About a possible Turkish military operation in the region east of the Euphrates River, Erdogan said almost all preparations have been completed.

A mission east of the Euphrates River, which Turkey’s leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria since 2016 -- Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

"Those who have carried out even a slightest attack on our country, will pay a heavy price. In particular Daesh, YPG, PYD, all of them will pay a heavy price," Erdogan said.

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