Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that Turkey has no desire to annex any of Syria’s territory.
“Operation Olive Branch in Afrin is aimed at eliminating terrorists in the region,” he said.
“Some terrorist organizations are still active there, which pose a significant threat to our security. We don’t intend to seize Syria’s territory,” the Turkish top diplomat pointed out.
“We actively support Syria’s territorial integrity, no matter if it is eastern Syria or western Syria. We have been emphasizing the fact in joint statements with Russia and Iran,” Cavusoglu added.
“We have many times highlighted this fact, the president himself spoke about it. All countries must respect the territorial integrity of other states and that is what we do,” the Turkish foreign ministry concluded.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had expressed hope while speaking in Ankara that the northwest Syrian city of Afrin would be seized by the end of the day.
Ankara considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be a terrorist organization as it is the Syrian branch of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The US also recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization but directly supports the YPG. This has been a cause of major hostility between Ankara and Washington.