ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said the Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish media reported.
“In my estimation, nearly one million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men.
“Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army (FSA),” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.
“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. 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,” the president said.
The Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation in Syria, the Euphrates Shield operation, on Aug 24 with FSA fighters to ostensibly clear the country’s southern border of both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Last week, a total of six Turkish troops, of them four in a suspected Syrian government attack, and two in ISIL attacks, were killed in three separate attacks from Nov 24 to 26.
AFP adds: Two Turkish soldiers are missing in Syria, the Turkish army said late on Tuesday, as the military presses an operation to push the Islamic State (IS) militants from the border area.
“Contact was lost with two of our soldiers,” the Turkish army said in a statement. Earlier the Amaq news agency affiliated with IS claimed that it had taken the pair hostage in northern Syria.