ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Monday said if his army did not capture the Afrin region in Syrian Kurdistan, European countries would face a new flood of refugees and wave of terror.
“All of Europe will pay a heavy price,” Yildirim said at a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev in Ankara.
“What Turkey does in [Afrin] is about the security of the Balkan and Europe,” he continued.
The European Union signed a deal with Turkey to tackle the migrant crisis that came into effect two years ago, although the latter has at times threatened to scrap it.
The Turkish Army, backing Islamist factions grouped under the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has been staging a military offensive with intense airstrikes and ground shelling on the isolated enclave of Afrin under the control of the US-armed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The campaign, in its fourth week now, has killed over 160 people, wounded more than 300, and displaced 60,000 people from the countryside of the Turkish border into central Afrin, Kurdish officials revealed.
Yildirim also issued a stern warning to the United States for its support of the YPG that drove the Islamic State (IS) away from swaths of land in eastern and northern Syria.
“Our NATO ally should come to its sense,” he said.
“We will clear the Afrin region from terrorist elements. And, we will make sure people return to their land. We are not engaged in dirty bargains,” Yildirim added, reiterating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vows to give the region “back to its true owners.”
Erdogan had previously claimed that the region, largely intact from the destructive effects of the seven-year-long Syrian civil war until the attempted Turkish invasion, belonged to Arabs and Kurds were brought from elsewhere.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany