UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS OF OKTAY
By Mumin Altas
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey controls an area in northern Syria the length of 120 kilometers (74.56 miles) east of the Euphrates River along the border between the two countries, the Turkish vice president said on Friday.
Speaking at the 21st World Congress of Russian Press in the capital Ankara, Fuat Oktay said his country controls 120 km out of 480 km (298.2 miles) east of the Euphrates River.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
The vice president stressed that no country should expect Turkey to allow the growth along its southern border of a "murderous" terrorist group that has been "killing its soldiers and civilians indiscriminately" for over 40 years.
“Achieving the goals of the deals with Russia and the U.S. depend on clearing the whole YPG/PKK and Daesh [also known as ISIS] terrorist organizations from Syria,” he added.
It is our right cause to prevent a terror corridor in northern Syria and we continue to defend our right both on the table and in the field, he added.
On Oct. 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
– Bilateral relations with Russia
Oktay said relations with Russia has strengthened further in the last 15 years.
Oktay said Erdogan and Putin met six times and spoke over phone nine times in the first half of this year.
Referring to the Sochi meeting, he said his country put efforts to institutionalize current relations and maintain friendly cooperation.
“We prioritized to increase the bilateral trade volume to $100 billion and the number of tourists to six million. Above all, our partnership with Russia will aim to ensure stability, prosperity and peace in the region,” he added.
* Writing by Gozde Bayar