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Türkiye ‘does not need permission’ for Syria operations against terrorists

Türkiye coordinates with its allies but does not seek anyone’s permission for its security operations in Syria, according to the Turkish presidential spokesperson.

“We don’t ask for permission, we just coordinate with our allies when we face a national security threat,” Ibrahim Kalin said in an interview aired by Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera on Sunday.

“In regards to the political situation in Syria, of course, it remains a source of threat and uncertainty for everyone, not just for us, but for Iraq, for Jordan, and other countries as well, (and) Europe etc.,” he added.

Last month Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword in northern Iraq and Syria, a cross-border aerial campaign against the terror group PKK/YPG, which has illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and Syrian borders where they plan and sometimes execute attacks on Turkish soil.

The operation was launched days after the terror group carried out a bomb attack on the popular Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, killing six people and injuring 81.

After the air operation began on November 20, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also signalled a ground operation in northern Iraq and northern Syria to eliminate the terror threat.

READ MORE: Turkish forces ‘neutralise’ senior PKK terrorist in northern Iraq

Response after Istanbul attack

Kalin explained that Türkiye’s initial response after the attack “was to coordinate and conduct a number of air operations.”

“We have established very clearly that YPG/PYD was behind this attack. We have the person who brought the bomb and carried out the attack, but also people who facilitate the arrival of that person – a lady,” he said.

“In recent years, the PKK has changed its tactics. Rather than using Syrian, say Kurds or others, they are using other people from different nationalities. To kind of cover themselves up,” he added.

Kalin rejected claims that Turkish air strikes had endangered US soldiers, reiterating that Ankara does not target civilians or American or Russian soldiers.

“We have a de-conflicting mechanism with the Russians and the Americans. We don’t target Russian or American soldiers or military posts in Syria or anywhere else. Our targets are PKK/PYD/YPG elements, and we tell them to stay away from those elements,” he said.

“The PYD/YPG is using at one point the American flag, at another point the (Syrian) regime flag to protect itself … sometimes they do this with the Russians, less so recently, but in the past,” he added.

Supporting legitimate Syrian opposition

Kalin also pointed out that under a deal signed in 2019, the US was supposed to make YPG/PKK terrorists move 30 kilometres (18 miles) away from the Turkish border, but the agreement was never implemented.

On Syria’s political situation, he said Ankara “will continue to support the legitimate Syrian opposition … despite the fact that almost the entire world has forgotten them,” including the US, Europe, and many Arab countries.

Regarding a possible meeting between President Erdogan and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Kalin said: “We don’t have an immediate plan for such a meeting, but our president is basically sending a message: If you act responsibly, if you address the security concerns, and allow the political process to move forward, then I might be prepared to take that step.”

READ MORE: Türkiye begins anti-terror raids in Iraq, Syria after Istanbul bombing

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