Turkish FM: Troops will move 19 miles into Syria

Turkey says it intends to create a “safe zone” that would push Kurdish militia away from its border and eventually allow the repatriation of up to 2 million Syrian refugees.

10 October 2019 | 18:19

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 10 October 2019 | 18:19

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Turkey’s foreign minister said Turkish troops intend to move some 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep into northern Syria and that its operation will last until all “terrorists are neutralized,” a reference to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Briefing a small group of journalists on Thursday, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters would be strengthened with more security force officers, including police, if needed. He did not comment on how many troops had crossed the border or how many jets were involved in the offensive.

The minister reiterated that Turkey aimed to create a safe zone that would allow the “voluntary” and “safe” return of Syrian refugees or displaced people.

Asked to comment on statements from European leaders criticizing Turkey’s incursion and suggestions that the EU would not fund Turkey’s plans for a safe zone, Cavusoglu said: “In this case we’d better let them, EU countries, take those refugees.”

“The majority of them — if we allow them today — are ready to go to European destinations,” he said. “If the EU and European countries don’t want to work with Turkey then it will be their problem as well.”

The minister said Turkey would take control of Islamic State prisons situated within the intended safe zone, but not those that lie farther south.

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