‘Turkey to increase safe zones in Syria,’ says Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 23 that Turkey would continue to increase the number of safe zones within Syria to include the east of the Euphrates River. In his address to Turkish and Muslim communities in New York, organized by the Turkish American National Steering Committee, Erdoğan said Turkey’s struggle would continue until the terror threat against it ends and would eradicate terror gangs that aim at Syria’s future.
As Hurriyet Daliy News writes in an article "‘Turkey to increase safe zones in Syria,’ says Erdoğan", in a speech later at the TURKEN foundation, Erdoğan said the Turkish military cleared a 4,000 square kilometer area from ISIL and the YPG as part of the Shield Operation and Olive Branch operations in Syria. “We will take similar steps east of the Euphrates,” said Erdoğan, stating that Ankara has turned the areas into safe zones for the Syrian people.
Turning to Jerusalem, Erdoğan vowed to safeguard the city against invaders. “We will not abandon Jerusalem, our first Qibla [Islamic direction of prayer] to invaders and those who perform state terror on Palestinians,” he said. Turkey will continue its struggle against the United States and the Israeli governments’ breaches of the holy city at the “highest-level” in diplomacy, he said. Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping East Jerusalem, now occupied by Israel, might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Turkish president also criticized the United Nations Security Council for serving the interests of “certain powers” rather than working to ensure global peace and stability.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan spoke to the Russian newspaper Kommersant on developments in Syria. The moderate Syrian opposition should be part of the political solution in Idlib, he said on Sept. 23. Erdoğan said Turkey prioritized civilians, the preservation of deescalation zones and protecting moderate opposition groups since the beginning of the Idlib issue. "There may be different approaches of different countries about moderate opposition,” according to Erdoğan. “But we are thinking that the moderate opposition should remain in the political process.” The opposition's involvement was needed to carry out the agenda in the Geneva and Astana talks in a healthy way, he said, referring to previous agreements in Syria by the UN, and Turkey, Russia and Iran, respectively. Turkey opposed any attempt that aims to undermine moderate opposition by presuming them to be "terrorists," Erdoğan stated. Erdoğan hailed an agreement between Ankara and Moscow in Sochi to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib. He said opposition forces will stay in their areas and radical groups determined by both countries will not be allowed to operate in the region.