World Bulletin / News Desk
Operation Euphrates Shield was launched early Wednesday, when artillery and air strikes were followed by Turkish tanks crossing the border to target ISIL and the PYD in support of Free Syrian Army fighters.
“Right now, unfortunately, all the attacks which happened in Gaziantep and Kilis... brought this issue to this point,” Erdogan told an audience at the Presidential Palace in Ankara.
“This is the end. We said it needed to be finished and the process has started this morning at 4.00 a.m. We have to solve the problem.”
Since January, rocket attacks on the Turkish province of Kilis from ISIL-held territory in Syria have killed at least 21 people while extremist attacks in Gaziantep blamed on ISIL include Saturday’s suicide bombing of a wedding that killed 54 and a car bomb attack in May that martyred two police officers.
Meanwhile, the PYD -- which controls a swathe of northern Syria along the Turkish border -- has been accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing in areas under its control, arbitrarily detaining political opponents and forcing civilians to fight. The group is the Syrian branch of the PKK extrem group that has waged war on Turkey since 1984.
The president stressed that both ISIL and the PYD threatened Turkey from northern Syria and said neither extrem groups nor their supporters stood a chance against the unity and solidarity of Turkey.
“You cannot divide our nation, you cannot lower our flag, you cannot smash up our homeland, our state, you cannot silence our call to prayer, you cannot bring this county to your knees, you cannot bring to heel these people,” Erdogan said.
He added: “This nation exists and will always exist with its people, military, police and guards, whatever threats there are against Turkey.”