KUALA LUMPUR: As Operation Peace Spring picks up momentum, Turkey is denying that it is oppressing the Kurds or depicting them as enemies of the state.
Dismissing Western media reports, Turkish ambassador to Malaysia Dr Merve Kavakci said that Turkey’s fight was against terrorists and not the Kurds. She stressed that Turkey was in fact assisting displaced Kurds, along with Arabs and Turkmens, to be orderly repatriated to war-torn Syria.
“The western media propaganda has painted a negative picture of Turkey attempting to eradicate the estimated 25 million Kurds, via ethnic cleansing.
“This cannot be further from the truth.
“In fact, we are establishing a 480km by 30km terror-free safe zone (along Turkey’s border with Syria) to house Kurdish refugees who have fled Syria.
“Thus far, we have secured 2,000sq km, enabling areas like Jarabulus and Afrin to be liberated and return to normalcy.
“We are determined to deter the formation of any terror corridor along our borders,” she said at her office in Menara Tan and Tan in Jalan Tun Razak, here.
Dr Kavakci said an estimated four million Syrian refugees had crossed into Turkey, and about 400,000 had been successfully repatriated to Syria through the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria since 2016.
“We are strong advocates of human rights and want to ensure that the refugees are not harmed in any way, when in our care, while eradicating the tyranny of terrorist organisations,” she said, adding that their target was the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Unit (YPG) terrorists who were recruiting child soldiers.
Her comments came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that 550 PKK and YPG terrorists had been neutralised since Operation Peace Spring was launched on Oct 9.
Mortar shell attacks in Mardin’s Nusaybin, Kızıltepe, Sanlıurfa’s Akcakale and Ceylanpınar districts saw 18 civilians, mostly children including a nine-month -old baby, being killed and 147 injured.
Two Turkish and 16 Syrian National Army soldiers were also killed in combat.
“The operation is being conducted in line with Turkey’s right to self-defense of its territories, and in line with the United Nations resolutions,” she said.
“This is to facilitate terror-free safe zone for the Syrians’ return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by YPG terrorists,” Dr Kavakci said.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
It has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000.
Meanwhile, Dr Kavakci said almost all of Turkey’s palm oil was imported from Malaysia, accounting to over 600,000 metric tonnes annually.
She added that Turkey and Malaysia were looking at greater cooperation in education, transfer of technology, the halal food industry, Islamic financing and tourism.
The Turkish defence industry is collaborating with Malaysia’s DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd (Deftech) in the joint production of heavy combat vehicles.
Also, Turkey’s biggest soap manufacturer Evyap Holdings AS has established a US$200 million (RM876 million) palm oil refinery and soap-making facility in Tanjung Langsat, Johor, via its subsidiary Evyap Sabun Malaysia Sdn Bhd.