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Türkiye to decide when to launch operation in northern Syria: Altun

Türkiye itself will decide when it may launch a new counter-terrorist operation across the border in northern Syria, according to the country’s communications director. 

PKK/YPG terrorists are attacking both Turkish soldiers and Syrians living in Turkish-controlled areas near the border, Fahrettin Altun said when Norwegian daily Aftenposten asked when Türkiye will start an operation in northern Syria.

“There may be different approaches regarding the crisis on the ground. However, we believe that the fight against terrorism is the common denominator of all states that want peace and stability in the region,” Altun said.

Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Türkiye has become a state that puts its own interests at the centre, he added.

“Of course, there is some exchange of ideas between the states. However, at the end of the day, no step that Türkiye will take is subject to anyone’s permission or consent,” he stressed.

When asked if Türkiye needs the support of Russian authorities for the operation, Altun said Turkish-Russian relations have a “deep-rooted history” and are “extremely realistic”.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents.

These operations are Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

Türkiye to continue with anti-terror operations: President Erdogan

Swedish, Finnish NATO bids

Asked about Türkiye’s objection to Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids, Altun said: “If we are convinced that they keep their promises, their membership will be approved. Right now, the Turkish parliament isn’t in session, so we can’t talk about a concrete date (to vote on their NATO bid).”

In June, Türkiye, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum on the Nordic countries’ bids for NATO membership following four-way talks in Madrid.

The memorandum conditions Finland and Sweden to take steps on Türkiye’s terrorism concerns, including the extradition of terror suspects, and lifts an arms embargo on Ankara.

Türkiye, a longstanding member of the NATO alliance, has criticised the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK/YPG and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). 

To join NATO — a step the countries took after Russia began its offensive against Ukraine — Sweden and Finland need the consent of all members of the alliance, including Türkiye, a member for over 70 years.

READ MORE: Turkish forces ‘neutralise’ two wanted terrorists

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