Turkish forces ‘liberated’ 400 sq. km of Syrian land – Erdogan

A Turkish incursion in Syria is proceeding successfully and has already allowed the country to “liberate” a vast swath of land from Islamic State militants and US-backed Kurdish YPG forces, President Tayyip Erdogan stated.

“Nobody can expect us to allow a terror corridor on our southern border,” Erdogan told a news conference, as quoted by Reuters.

Erdogan added that he has long been seeking the establishment of a so-called “safe zone” in Syria, the idea of which had been ignored or rejected by other world powers.

Erdogan insisted that both Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the YPG pose an equal threat to Turkey’s national security, refusing to make a distinction between the internationally recognized terrorist group and the Kurdish minority forces.

READ MORE: Turkey rejects truce with Kurds, lashes out at US over ‘unacceptable’ comments

Turkish forces crossed into Syria on August 24, under the pretext of targeting Islamic State positions along the border. As IS fighters melted away, however, Turkish troops involved in ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ clashed with the Kurdish YPG militia, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Washington has since called on Turkey to refrain from targeting the Kurds, calling the reports of clashes “a source of deep concern.” Moscow has also urged Turkey to refrain from attacking opposition and ethnic groups, at the same time advising Ankara to coordinate its operations with official Damascus.

The government in Damascus has condemned the Turkish incursion as a violation of Syrian sovereignty. Accompanying the Turkish troops are some 1,500 militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, fervently fighting against the government of President Bashar Assad.