The Turkish army’s only target in the northern Syrian district of Afrin is the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has vowed, stressing that the length of the operation “depends on developments on the battlefield.”
“The operation concerns terrorists and terror organizations within the Afrin district,” Bozdağ said, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 29.
The target of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” is not Kurds living in Afrin, Bozdağ said, claiming that some “dark forces” were trying to disseminate incorrect reports that Turkey was attacking civilians and the Kurdish population in the region.
“These are all false news. Turkey is a state for our Kurdish brothers as well,” he said.
Turkey launched the operation against the YPG in Afrin on Jan. 20, a group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). On its ninth day, Turkish troops and the members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) captured a strategically important position along the border.
Saying that the government was most frequently asked about the length of the operation, Bozdağ said: “This operation will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized, and comfort, trust and stability is established and the people in the region will have a taste of peace and freedom,” he said.
The deputy prime minister reiterated that Turkey would withdraw from the region after the operation is completed fully and their objectives are accomplished, while adding that Turkey is not an occupying force.
On concerns that civilians may get hurt during the operation, Bozdağ said Turkey was protecting civilians “not because of international pressure but because of its faith, moral values and military traditions.”
“Utmost care is being given to avoid even a minor harm on civilians,” he stressed.