- Between the start of the offensive and by Thursday morning, Turkish troops and the Arab and Turkmen Syrian militias supporting them have killed 109 Kurdish fighters.
- According to Erdogan, the offensive would help to restore the territorial integrity of the neighboring country by fighting the Kurdish authority in the region.
- Turkey said it had already seized all its designated objective after day one of the attacks and that its operation was continuing as planned.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to send the millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey to Europe if the EU continues showing opposition to the ongoing Turkey’s military offensive in Syria. “Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” he said in a speech to MPs from his AKP party.
The Turkish president’s words were apparently in response to the wave of international criticism in response to the offensive that the Turkish forces opened on Wednesday. The attack is aimed at Kurdish fighters in the northern Syrian area, where Turkey wants to create a “safe zone” as a buffer against “terrorism.”
“What we are trying to do is prevent the establishment of a terrorist state on our southern border. This cannot happen,” he emphasized. Between the start of the offensive and by Thursday morning, Turkish troops and the Arab and Turkmen Syrian militias supporting them have killed 109 Kurdish fighters, according to Erdogan. Airstrikes and artillery bombardments were conducted on 181 targets. The UN Security Council was scheduled to meet later on Thursday for an emergency discussion on the Turkish raid.
Turkey ‘keen on restoring the democratic structure’
Erdogan defended the Turkish operation, which has been named “Peace Spring,” by arguing that it is in favor of President Bashar Al Assad’s Syrian government. According to Erdogan, the offensive would help to restore the territorial integrity of the neighboring country by fighting the Kurdish authority in the region. The main goals of Turkey are to “restore the democratic structure” in the Syrian border region and the repatriation of Syrian refugees. Erdogan will not accept any damage to the civilian population of the area, he said.
Erdogan denounces criticism from Saudis and Egyptians
The Turkish president condemned other critics alongside the EU during his speech, focusing specifically on Saudi Arabia and Egypt. “Who brought Yemen to its present state,” he asked, referring to the ongoing civil war in which a Saudi-led coalition is fighting. According to Erdogan, Egypt has destroyed democracy in its own country. “They are unfair, and they just make up some words. We, on the other hand, take action, and that is the difference between us,” the Turkish president believes.
The Turkish offensive started on Wednesday with aerial bombing and artillery firing. The first Turkish ground troops entered the area on Wednesday evening. Turkey says it wants to secure a strip of about 225 kilometers long and 32 kilometers wide. President Erdogan says that his administration is keen on creating a “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border. Turkey said it had already seized all its designated objective after day one of the attacks and that its operation was continuing as planned.
“Our heroic commandos taking part in Operation Peace Spring are continuing to advance east of the Euphrates (river),” the country’s Defence Ministry tweeted. “The designated targets were seized,” it added in a statement released later.