World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that the primary targets of the ISIL, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram terrorist groups have always been Muslims.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the capital Bamako, Erdogan criticized the "callous" attitude of Western countries towards terrorism and urged them to be "much more sensitive" in this regard.
"Whoever identifies terrorist groups with a particular religion or ethnic identity plays into the hands of those terrorists," he added.
Erdogan also mentioned the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin region. He said a total of 2,348 terrorists had been 'neutralized' so far by the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army.
He vowed to continue the counterterrorism operation “until all terrorists are wiped out from the region".
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-ISIL terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
Both the military and Turkish authorities have repeatedly said that the operation targets only terrorist elements and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.
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