MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Ankara does not intend to seize Syria’s territory, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
"Operation Olive Branch in Afrin is aimed at eliminating terrorists in the region," he said. "Some terrorist organizations are still active there, which pose a significant threat to our security. We don’t intend to seize Syria’s territory," the Turkish top diplomat pointed out.
"We actively support Syria’s territorial integrity, no matter if it is eastern Syria or western Syria. We have been emphasizing the fact in joint statements with Russia and Iran," Cavusoglu added.
"We have many times highlighted this fact, the president himself spoke about it. All countries must respect the territorial integrity of other states and that is what we do," the Turkish foreign ministry concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, the media reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had expressed hope while speaking in Ankara that the Syrian city of Afrin would be seized by the end of the day. On Tuesday, Turkey’s General Staff said that Turkish armed forces and Free Syrian Army units had surrounded Afrin on March 12.
On January 20, Turkey’s General Staff announced the launch of Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria’s Afrin area, where about 1.5 mln Syrian Kurds and refugees from Syria’s other regions reside. The YPG, the main target of the Turkish operation, are the attack force of the Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the United States. Kurdish units were the most effective force taking part in the ground operations against the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia). Ankara considers the YPG and PYD to be terrorist organizations.