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Not possible to eradicate terrorism through military means alone - Altun

  • 14 Oct 2019

"You have to eliminate the social dynamics underlying radicalisation. Turkey's secure regional plan is for exactly this goal," says Fahrettin Altun, the communications director for Turkish Presidency.

A Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighter is greeted by a woman in the town of Tal Abyad, Syria October 13, 2019. ( Reuters )

In an interview to a local daily, Fahrettin Altun, the communications director for the Turkish Presidency, has said that eradicating terrorism through military means alone is not possible.

Talking about the presence of jails holding Daesh prisoners in northern Syria, Altun said that the Daesh terrorists would be treated just like other terrorists and there is no question of their release if the detention centres were located within the 30 kilometres strip of land that Operation Peace Spring aims to clear. 

"The large prisons and surveillance centers, which are constantly spoken, are outside this area their prisoners are not subject to Turkey," he added.

"Daesh terrorist organisation has been used as an excuse for everything for several years. For example, if a country wants to change the balances in the field in a certain way, it immediately plays the fight against Daesh card."

"We saw that the PKK-YPG terrorist organisation recently threatened to release the terrorists. Of course, if you release the terrorists you have caught, a security problem arises. However, it is not possible to eradicate Daesh and similar organisations through military solutions only. You have to eliminate the social dynamics underlying radicalisation. Turkey's secure regional plan is for exactly this goal."

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring with the aim of clearing its border of YPG/PKK terrorists and create a Peace Corridor to ensure the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK outfit that is recognised as a terror group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

The PKK has waged an armed campaign against the Turkish state for decades that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.

Highlighting the significance of the operation Altun said, "The Obama administration's decision of arming of YPG/PKK made operation necessary to prevent creation of terror corridor."

He added that the July 15, 2016 coup caused delays in implementing the operation since many military personnel involved in the putsch were deployed near Syria.

The Turkish presidency's communication director continued that "Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation of the Olive Branch were steps in the same direction and now we're cleaning up the rest."

Talking about the challenges posed during the operation, Altun said that a terrorist organisation doesn't stand a chance against an organised military like the  Turkish Armed Froces (TAF) but the only issue faced on the field is the distinction between civilians and terrorists who seek shelter among civilians disguised as them.

"Our operation plans were prepared in a way that would not harm the civilians in the least. In addition, utmost effort was made to ensure that historical monuments, cultural and religious centers and physical infrastructure were not damaged."

Altun also emphasised on the use of Turkey-made weapons during the operation that include, "armored vehicles, armed and surveillance UAVs, storm howitzers and reconnaissance satellites, sniper and laser missiles." 

He added, "The use of these weapons not only increases our military power but also has a positive impact on the psychology of our army. Koral Electronic Warfare System developed by ASELSAN plays an important role in the operation of Peace Spring. Koral, a national and local system, is used to blind the radars and to interrupt communication."

He also highlighted the fact that how the YPG propaganda strengthened its image in the fight against Daesh that was exaggerated due to the Obama administrations support, that contrasted the support provided to the Free Syrian Army and other moderate opposition forces in the region.

Stressing over the global perception of the PKK terror group, Altun emphasised the difference between cognition and denial.

"Official sites of the United States recognised that the YPG was the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation. When the Obama administration decided to arm the organization, these statements were quickly erased. Do you think Americans and Europeans [officials] do not accept these facts in closed meetings?"
He gave the example of US Senator Lindsey Graham, who accused Turkey of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and threatened sanctioned, but had different views when speaking to the Russians who introduced themselves as Turkish ministers.

Answering another question about the creation of a the north Syrian Peace Corridor, Alten said the 30-kilometre strip was important as "it is at the intersection of one of the most important roads from the north of the M4 motorway, Starting from Latakia on the Mediterranean coast and running through Idlib, Aleppo and Manbij and into Iraq. It is also on the main road to Raqqa and Deir ez Zor."

The Turkish presidency's communications director spoke about Ankara's solo struggle against Daesh and YPG terrorists saying that if, "We had acted with the thought of who would react at that time of the Cyprus Peace Operation, then there would be no Turkish presence on the island today."

He added that the Syria terror corridor bore a similar red line, for which "we will continue to take all necessary steps until we reach our goals and are satisfied with the gains we have achieved." He also mention the moral support of brotherly countries like "Azerbaijan, Qatar and Pakistan."

Talking about the establishment of a Peace Corridor, Altun said "Of course, there are steps to be taken to make the return to Syria attractive. Think of it this way: We all have families. Can you take your child to a place that is not a school or a hospital? Or, if there is insufficient housing, can you make a life here? Therefore, when we say safe zone, we are talking about a comprehensive project, a reconstruction. When appropriate conditions were established, we saw that Syrian asylum seekers voluntarily returned to their countries where we had previously cleared of terrorism. Of course, Turkey should not be expected to do it alone. The international community should contribute in terms of funding and encouraging Syrian refugees."

He added that the operation had shown that most of Turkey's political parties had cast their rivalries and differences aside for the sake of national interest and expressed support for the anti-PKK operation.

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