ISTANBUL, Turkey (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday his army's incursion into Syria was aiming at removing the regime of his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad.
"We entered Syria for nothing but to end the rulership of the tyrant Assad who is waging state terrorism," said Erdogan at an Istanbul symposium on Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause participated by attendees from some 40 Muslim-majority countries.
President Erdogan's remarks came as the Syrian Army tightened the noose on the Gulf and Turkish-supported rebels in eastern Aleppo in its latest advances in a months-long siege, capturing whole districts as government bombardments and shelling killed at least 45 civilians in the last two days.
Erdogan advocated that Turkey had no "eyes on Syrian lands," but his administration had to act to give the land to "its true owners and implement justice," according to the Kurdistan24 bureau in Istanbul.
Turkish army backing Islamist Free Syrian Army (FSA) units began an incursion dubbed "Operation Euphrates Shield" into northern Syria in late August.
The operation was officially announced to be against the Islamic State (IS) group which was holding on to the last 90-kilometers (55 miles) stretch on the Turkish-Syrian border.
As Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim later made avowals of not letting Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) make further territorial gains, the Turkish Army also clashed with the Kurds since, and conducted airstrikes, killing scores of fighters as well as civilians.
The US which leads the Anti-IS Coalition has distanced itself from Turkish actions against Syrian Kurds, labeling them as "uncoordinated movements."
SOLDIERS LOST, WOUNDED
Meanwhile, Turkish General Staff said on its website that two of its soldiers from the special forces went missing in Syria on Tuesday as communications with them were lost at around 03:30 PM. No further detail was provided.
The IS subsequently claimed in its Aamaq agency to have kidnapped the two soldiers near a village west of al-Bab in northern Aleppo.
If confirmed, the number of Turkish troops as POWs at IS hands rose to three, with the September 2015 kidnapping of a soldier on the border in the Kilis Province.
On Wednesday, government-run Anadolu Agency reported that five other soldiers were wounded in action against IS near al-Bab which Turkey wrestles to deny Kurds territorial contiguity.
So far, 18 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Syria.
Editing by Ava Homa