The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the goal of operation Euphrates Shield is to end the rule of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and return Syria to its rightful owners. Turkey is supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters taking part in the operation.
Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul yesterday “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.” He added “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”.
This is the first time that Erdogan has said that ending Assad’s rule is the goal of operation Euphrates Shield which was launched on the 24th of August in order to secure Turkey’s borders from ISIS, break the link between areas under the control of Kurdish forces in north Syria so that they do not establish a Kurdish entity that encourages a separatist trend and establish a safe area to accommodate Syrian refugees.
Erdogan also pointed out that some people have estimated the number of people who have been killed in Syria at 600,000 but that he believes the figure is closer to 1 million people. He said “The series of killings continues” and that includes the murder of women and children.
He continued by saying “Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Why? We do not aspire to a grain of dust from Syrian territory, we entered Syria to protect the real owners of the land and administer justice. We entered to end the brutal rule of Al-Assad that is practicing a policy of state terror and we are not there for anything else.”
In the same context, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, whilst commenting on the recent incident in which Turkish soldiers were targeted in northern Syria last week, said that Turkey will respond in a timely manner and that operation Euphrates Shield will continue until it achieves all its objectives. The airstrike is thought to have been carried out by the Syrian regime. He made these comments at a Justice and Development Party meeting in the Turkish parliament.