Turkey has been bearing the heavy impact of the Syrian crisis since its outbreak. The migration problem is on one hand, while threat of terrorism to the safety and security of a country – which is a powerhouse and island of stability in its region – is on the other hand. Turkey, besides dealing with the increasing pressure of hosting nearly 4 million migrants as a result of the on-going crisis in Syria, has also been standing firm against various kinds of terrorist acts towards its people and interest.
To this date, DAESH (ISIS) rocket attacks in the border areas have resulted in the death of 21 of Turkish citizens. Bombing terrorist attacks carried out in our cities by DAESH has claimed the lives of hundreds of our citizens. Most recently, 54 of our citizens – majority of whom are children (28 people below 18 years of age) – fell victim to a heinous attack in Gaziantep on August 20, 2016.
Turkey is currently fighting a number of terrorist organisations that present clear threats to our national security. Our resolve to fight these terrorist organisations is firm. It is with this understanding that we have given our full support to all international efforts to fight DAESH since day one.
Against this backdrop, a comprehensive operation in Jarablus Syria was undertaken on the morning of August 24, 2016. This operation is supported by International Coalition’s air force and includes elements of Turkish Armed Forces. The objective of this operation is to ensure the advancement of the Syrian opposition on the ground against DEASH and pushing the DAESH elements away from the positions they control along our borders.
Naturally, Turkey does not want any presence by any terrorist groups along its borders. The presence of these organisations has become a direct threat to our national security and security of our borders in the sixth year of the Syrian conflict.
We have always given due response to these terrorist actions to date. Our response has been based on the notion of self-defence, as outlined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. We will continue to exercise our right to protect our national security. Relevant Security Council resolutions (no. 1373, no. 2170, no. 2178) attribute responsibility to countries in the fight against terrorism, specifically in countering DAESH.
Fighting DAESH and pushing this terrorist organisation away from our borders have always been priority issues for Turkey. Turkey has actively been participating in coalition efforts against DEASH since July 2015. We have taken many measures to reinforce our border security since that date. Clearing our borders from DEASH will ensure our border security completely.
In pursuit of this objective, the Coalition and Turkish Armed Forces units have put DAESH targets under fire from the air and the ground. The operation coordinated with the International Coalition is at its early stages and being executed successfully thus far. Russia was notified before and after the operation began.
We intend to continue our support to the operation of the Syrian opposition until DAESH is cleared from this area entirely. This operation is also a clear indication that Turkey will not accept any unilateral moves or agendas executed against the will of the majority of the Syrian people nor allow terrorist organisations to take hold in a region that has critical importance for our national security.
These efforts by Turkey also constitute clear contributions in terms of preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity.
Turkey will continue its support to efforts aiming to achieve a transition process that will initiate a genuine transformation in Syria that reflects the will of the people and bring stability, prosperity and security.
Deniz Çakar is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Namibia.