By Sorwar Alam
Turkey will not seek permission to destroy elements threatening Turkish national security, Presidency spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Kalin said Turkey had the right to strike any threat, whether it comes from Al-Bab, Aleppo, Raqqa in Syria or Tal Afar, Sinjar in Iraq.
“Turkey doesn’t need to seek permission from anyone to do this,” he said.
Kalin added that Turkey was fighting for the future of Syrian people, for the region and for its own national security.
Turkey has been supporting opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to clear border cities in northern Syria from the Daesh terrorist organization.
Turkish support for the FSA comes within the context of Operation Euphrates Shield, a Turkish-led campaign that began last August and is aimed at eliminating the terrorist presence in northern Syria.
More than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of area and captured most of Al-Bab, a strategic city for Daesh.
The Turkish president’s spokesman said the operation in the Daesh stronghold Al-Bab in northwestern Aleppo was significant.
Avoid civilian casualities
“Victory in Al-Bab is significant for the Raqqa operation,” he said referring a possible military camping to the de-facto capital of Daesh territory in Syria.
Turkish troops and FSA fighters have shown great care to avoid civilian casualties in the city, he added.
Earlier this week, Turkish military said the operation in Al-Bab was almost complete.
Turkey will be active both in the field and in the negotiation table when it comes to Syria and Iraq, he said.
“This is a must for Turkish national security,” he added.
The presidential spokesman also addressed the failure of the Cyprus peace talks over a controversial law passed by the Greek Cypriot administration.
The reunification talks -- brokered by UN Special Cyprus Envoy Espen Barth -- were launched in May 2015 to discuss a permanent settlement for the divided Mediterranean island.
Erdogan, Trump to meet in May
The main goal is to find a political solution, as the sides seek to reunify the island under a federal system after more than 40 years of division.
But the talks stalled over the Greek Cypriot parliament’s vote last Friday to introduce a yearly public school commemoration of a 1950 referendum in which Greek Cypriots voted overwhelmingly for Athens to take over the island, an idea known as Enosis.
Kalin said he hoped the Greek Cypriot administration would deal with this mistake.
Kalin stressed that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was ready to reach a deal and that it was up to the other side to take a step towards an agreement.
Cyprus’s three guarantors -- Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom -- were assigned when it gained independence from Britain in 1960.
Kalin also said a face-to-face meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump would likely be held in May during a NATO leaders summit in Europe.
As both leaders will be at the summit, there must be a meeting, he said specifying that officials from both countries were working to organize a meeting before May.
He also confirmed that Erdogan would visit Russia in March to join a Turkey-Russia High Level Cooperation Council.
Erdogan will also pay a return visit to Pakistan, the spokesman said, referring to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Ankara, in which he will meet the Turkish president later on Wednesday.