PRESIDENT ERDOGAN SAYS TURKEY ENTERED SYRIA TO END “RULE OF THE CRUEL ASSAD”

Source: Europe Newsweek

In a speech on Tuesday, Erdogan condemned what he said was the failure of the United Nations in Syria and cast Turkey’s incursion in August, when it sent tanks, fighter jets and special forces over the border, as an act of exasperation.

“Close to one million people died in Syria, and they continue dying. Where is the U.N.? What are they doing? We kept saying ‘patience, patience, patience’ but could not take it any more and entered Syria,” Erdogan said.

“We are there to bring justice. We are there to end the rule of the cruel Assad, who has been spreading state terror.”

But Turkey’s “Operation Euphrates Shield” was not about battling Assad. It aims to sweep Islamic State from a roughly 90-km (56-mile) strip of the Syrian border and prevent Kurdish militia groups from seizing territory in their wake.

Tuesday was the first time in almost a month that Erdogan had mentioned Assad by name in a major public address, according to a review of his recent speeches published on the presidency website. He made no direct reference to events in Aleppo.

A senior official from one of the Turkmen rebel brigades backed by Turkey said some 60 percent of Turkmen fighters pulled out of Aleppo in August to take part in Euphrates Shield, withdrawing from front lines against Assad’s forces.

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