Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that neither Russia nor Iran are his country’s targets in Syria.
“Turkey does not take aim at either Russia or Iran in Syria. We are only destroying the elements of the [Assad] regime,” he said on Monday. Erdogan’s remarks were broadcast by NTV television.
The Turkish leader noted though that he “expects [other countries] to show respect” for Ankara’s stance, adding that the participation in combat operations in Syria was the will of the people rather than the leadership’s personal choice.
“I appeal to Russia and Iran once again. Turkey has no problems with these countries in Syria. We do not set sights on Syria’s territory. Nor do we have plans to gain a foothold there,” he added.
Referring to Ankara’s Operation Spring Shield in Syria’s Idlib, which began on February 27, Erdogan stated that the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would sustain heavy losses. “We launched the operation after 34 of our soldiers had been killed in Idlib.
We will not leave any drop of our martyrs’ blood shed there unanswered. We have already inflicted the greatest damage ever on the regime, and these casualties are just the beginning for it,” he stated.
The situation in Syria’s Idlib deteriorated dramatically once again overnight into February 28. Ankara said that over 30 Turkish soldiers had been killed by Syrian government forces’ strike. Shortly after that, Turkey carried out strikes on Syrian army positions, specifying that over 200 targets had been hit.
Turkey has conducted three military operations in Syria: Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring. They resulted in creating a buffer security zone between the border towns of Azaz and Jarablus, establishing control over Afrin and the territories to the east of the Euphrates.