Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to maintain ‘territorial unity’ in Syria and to protect Turkey’s national interests, while speaking at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on Monday.
“Our goal in this process is [to] secure the territorial unity [in] Syria [alongside] especially reinforcing our national security. In the first attempt, we are aiming to establish secure areas [in order to ensure] that those four million [of] refugees go back their homes safely,” he said.
The Turkish leader also accused Kurdish groups of leaving the former Islamic State’s (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL) de-facto capital of Raqqa with weapons that belonged to IS: “PKK and YPG, which are supported and provided with arms with the pretext of fighting against Daesh, have been allowed to go out of Raqqa freely with the arms of Daesh terrorists.”
On Saturday, Erdogan confirmed that Turkey has completed all necessary military preparations for a military operation in northern Syria.