Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Turkey had the legitimate right to act if militants are not cleared from its border with war-torn Syria, where Ankara has carried out multiple military offensives since 2016.
Erdoğan made his remarks during a speech to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in parliament.
“If the terrorists here are not cleared as we were promised, we have the legitimate right to mobilise once again,” Deutsche Welle Turkish cited Erdoğan as saying, referring to predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey designates a terrorist group due to links to an insurgency on its own soil.
“The terror group and the threats it poses to our country are continuing in areas along our Syrian border that are not under our control,’’ he added.
The Turkish president also expressed concern about Syria’s northwest Idlib region, where the Ankara-Moscow brokered ceasefire deal in March to stop heavy fighting between Syrian government forces and Turkey-backed rebels.
“The attack by Russia on Syrian National Army forces in the Idlib region shows that lasting peace in the region is not wanted,” Erdoğan said.
At least 78 people were killed and scores wounded on Monday, following air strikes on a camp in northwest Syria run by Turkish-backed rebel fighters, according to London-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.