Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has signalled a ground operation to northern Iraq and northern Syria to eliminate the terror threat, Anadolu News Agency reports.
“First of all, this operation in northern Iraq and northern Syria is not an operation that was carried out with random thought by saying ‘who would say what?’ or ‘how would that happen?’
“As we’ve said before, if someone disturbs our country and lands, we will make them pay the price. So, there are terrorist organisations in our south that are planning many attacks or that carry out such attacks and pose a threat (to Turkiye),” Erdogan on Sunday told reporters on the presidential plane returning from his Qatar trip.
Erdogan’s remarks came after Turkiye launched early Sunday the Operation Claw-Sword, a cross-border aerial campaign against Kurdish sites across the Iraqi and Syrian borders, where it claims armed groups are planning attacks on Turkish soil.
“This is not limited to just an air operation,” Erdogan stressed, adding that the relevant units will do their consultations and take steps accordingly.
Turkiye’s air operation followed last Sunday’s terror attack on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue that killed at least six people and left 81 injured.
The Turkish National Defence Ministry said the operation was carried out in line with the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Erdogan said nearly 70 aircraft, including armed drones, took part in the operation, and added that a total of 89 terror targets, including shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels and ammunition depots were destroyed.
“At this point, 45 terrorist targets, at a depth of approximately 140 km (87 mi) in northern Iraq, and 44 targets at a depth of about 20 km (12 miles) in Syria were hit,” he added.
Asked if Turkiye talked about this operation with Russia and the US, Erdogan said: “We have not had any conversations with (US President Joe) Biden or (Russian President Vladimir) Putin regarding this operation. However, both Biden and Putin already know that we can do such things in this region at any time.”
Turkiye is with the US in NATO, Erdogan also said, noting, however, that Washington has unfortunately sent thousands of equipment, ammunition and weapons to the terror zones in Syria.