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Erdogan: Euphrates Shield operation in Syria is aimed exclusively at terrorists

The target of the Euphrates Shield operation is not some country or individual, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says
Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border AP Photo
Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border
© AP Photo

ANKARA, December 1. /TASS/. The exclusive purpose of Turkey’s operation Euphrates Shield in Syria is neutralization of terrorist groups, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an audience of regional officials in Ankara on Thursday.

"The target of the Euphrates Shield operation is not some country or individual. It is aimed entirely against terrorist organizations. May nobody have any doubts on that score or try to look for a different meaning. Turkey, even if left alone, will keep fighting against terrorism," he said, adding that the country had encountered western resistance in that sphere.

"That the West is worried by Turkey’s policy towards Syria and Iraq does not mean that it is concerned about the sovereignty of these countries. It does not care about the future of Syria or Iraq. The western countries are present there because there is oil," Erdogan believes. He added that Ankara "will not let the terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia), the National Self-Defense Forces and the Democratic Union party (Syrian Kurds are regarded in Turkey as terrorist groups) near its borders."

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the agreements achieved by the presidents of Russia and Turkey "are being implemented along all tracks."

"In its practical work Russia is guided - let me say that once again - not by somebody’s unilateral statements. There have been quite a few of these. It is guided by the agreements that have been achieved by the presidents," Lavrov said. "May I assure you that these agreements are being implemented via diplomatic services and military and special services."

Earlier this week a number of mass media quoted Erdogan as saying at a Middle East conference in Istanbul Turkey laid no claim to Syrian territory but had launched the military operation in northern Syria in order to end President Bashar Assad’s rule.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs, said the president's remarks confirm that the anti-terrorism struggle has never been a priority for Ankara.

"Unfortunately, Erdogan’s words corroborate that Turkey’s initial goals in Syria had been far from suppressing terrorism. My personal opinion is that the Turkish side wants to strengthen its position as a regional player and perhaps a global leader, first and foremost. Secondly, it wants to tackle the Kurdish issue. The task of thwarting terror threats comes third," the Russian lawmaker explained.

In this sense, the initial goals, which Moscow and Ankara had declared in Syria, were different straight from start, Kosachev went on to say. Moreover, he believes that the goals set by Turkey differ from those of the United States and the US-led coalition. "We have a triangle of diverging goals here," Kosachev explained.

He described that circumstance as regretful. "In a triangle, which exists in Syria - the government, moderate opposition and terrorists - any task directed against the authorities consolidates the opposition - be it moderate or not so moderate," the Russian lawmaker said. "It definitely diverges from the tasks, which the international community has in Syria," the Russian politician said.

"We should first strengthen the positions of the authorities and the moderate opposition on the basis of fending off the terrorist threat and settling the relations between the government and the moderate opposition afterwards," Kosachev stressed.

"It seems to me that in this sense we have aligned our positions with a certain number of western states. But, regretfully, we are only in the process of aligning our positions with Turkey," the Russian politician concluded.