NEW YORK, January 8. /TASS/. Ankara believes that the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, outlawed in Russia) has been completely defeated militarily in Syria and the Turkish government is ready to put forward its strategy of restoring peace in the country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an article published by the New York Times.
Erdogan said US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US servicemen from Syria was a right one.
According to him, Ankara’s operations against the Islamic State forces helped to prevent terrorist attacks in Turkey and Europe. Erdogan also accused the US-led coalition of relying heavily on airstrikes, which were "carried out with little or no regard for civilian casualties," adding that his country used different methods allowing to minimize impact on infrastructure.
He said that Ankara was set to completely eliminate the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria. "Militarily speaking, the so-called Islamic State has been defeated in Syria," the Turkish president said, adding that "military victory against the terrorist group is a mere first step."
Erdogan also expressed his concern that "some outside powers may use the organization’s remnants as an excuse to meddle in Syria’s internal affairs."
"Turkey proposes a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the root causes of radicalization," he said. "We want to ensure that citizens do not feel disconnected from government, terrorist groups do not get to prey on the grievances of local communities and ordinary people can count on a stable future."
"The first step is to create a stabilization force featuring fighters from all parts of Syrian society. Only a diverse body can serve all Syrian citizens and bring law and order to various parts of the country," Erdogan went on. "In this sense, I would like to point out that we have no argument with the Syrian Kurds."
However, according to him, many young Syrians had no other choice but to join the People’s Protection Units (P.Y.D./Y.P.G.), a Kurdish militia whom Turkey considers to be "the Syrian branch of the P.K.K. [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]." The latter is listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and the United States.
"Following the United States withdrawal from Syria, we will complete an intensive vetting process to reunite child soldiers with their families and include all fighters with no links to terrorist organizations in the new stabilization force," he said.
Erdogan identified "ensuring adequate political representation for all communities" as his country’s another priority.
"Under Turkey’s watch, the Syrian territories that are under the control of the Y.P.G. or the so-called Islamic State will be governed by popularly elected councils. Individuals with no links to terrorist groups will be eligible to represent their communities in local governments," Erdogan’s article says.
According to the Turkish president, local councils in predominantly Kurdish parts of northern Syria will largely consist of the Kurdish community’s representatives, but all other groups will also have "fair political representation." Those councils will receive advice from Turkish officials with relevant experience "on municipal affairs, education, health care and emergency services."
"Turkey intends to cooperate and coordinate our actions with our friends and allies. We have been closely involved in the Geneva and Astana processes, and are the sole stakeholder that can work simultaneously with the United States and Russia," he added. "We will build on those partnerships to get the job done in Syria."
Erdogan reiterated that his country favored preserving the territorial integrity of Syria and expressed hope for the international community’s support.