President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has admitted that the reason Turkish troops are inside Syria is to oust the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.
He said “We entered [Syria] to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. We didn’t enter for any other reason,” according to the Hurriyet daily news.
Turkish troops entered Syria in August, launching operation Euphrates Shield. Ground troops and air power were deployed to northern parts of the country, with the stated goal of retaking areas held by ISIS.
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The operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who have accused Ankara of violating Syria’s territorial integrity.
Press TV reports:
He (Erdogan) went on to claim that Ankara has no territorial claims on Syrian soil and is only seeking “justice” in the country. “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.”
He also said that by “his estimation” around 1 million people had been killed in Syria since the conflict broke out. The statement was made as the UN puts the death toll at around 400,000.
“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],” he added.
He further went on to accuse the UN Security Council of inaction in Syria, noting that the Council is ineffective in its current state. “The world is bigger than five,” he said in reference to the UNSC’s number of permanent members.
Back in August, Turkey launched an incursion into Syria, claiming that it was meant to engage both Daesh terrorists in the Syrian-Turkish border area and Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh. Damascus has on multiple occasions condemned Turkey’s military intervention as a breach of its sovereignty.
Earlier in the day, the Arab League denounced Turkey’s interference in the affairs of Syria, stressing that the Ankara’s support for terrorists has now backfired.
“The issue has to be handed over to the Syrians, opposition and government, excluding of course the terrorist groups,” said Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary general of the League.