ANKARA, November 8. /TASS/. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not rule out that Turkey’s trans-border operation Peace Spring in Syria may be continued. He speculated there was such a possibility while talking to journalists on his presidential plane on the way back home from Hungary, the NTV television channel said on Friday.
"It’s beyond doubt. We will not stop until the last terrorist has left the region. We will not leave [Syria] after the other countries are gone. We support the territorial integrity and unity of Syria," Erdogan replied when asked if the military operation might go on.
The Turkish leader claimed Ankara by no means wished to see the "dismembering" of Syria. He reiterated that Turkey had the right to carry out the operation on the basis of the Adana Pact.
"If the region is not cleared of terrorist organizations, we will push ahead with the operation under the Adana Pact," Erdogan stated.
Relations between Turkey and Syria were extremely strained in the 1980s-1990s, because Ankara held Damascus responsible for supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. In October 1998, a crisis in bilateral relations flared up. Turkey set a 45-day deadline for Syria to give up support for the KWP. The same year the Syrian authorities expelled the KWP’s leader Abdullah Ocalan. A breakthrough in bilateral relations followed. On October 20, 1998 negotiations between the foreign and interior ministers ended with the signing of a joint protocol and security agreement in Adana.
On October 9, Ankara launched an operation codenamed Peace Spring in northern Syria with the aim of creating a buffer zone that would protect the Turkish border. On October 22, the Russian and Turkish presidents met in Sochi to put their signatures to a memorandum on joint actions to settle the situation in northern Syria. Under the arrangement Russian military police and Syrian border guards were moved into areas bordering on Turkey’s 30-kilometer security zone starting from the noon of October 23. On October 29, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported that the Kurds had completed the pullback of their armed groups from the security zone.
On Thursday, Erdogan said that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which Ankara considers to be a terrorist organization, had not completed their pullout from northeastern Syria yet.