Erdoğan to EP: We will not leave Afrin until our work is done

Turkish soldiers are seen around the area of Mount Bersaya, north of the Syrian town of Azaz near the border with Turkey, on January 22, 2018. The Turkish military on January 20 launched operation "Olive Branch", its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year civil war. The operation, with Turkish war planes and artillery backing a major ground incursion involving Ankara-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish tanks, aims to oust the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia from its Afrin enclave. / AFP PHOTO / Saleh ABO GHALOUN

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told the European Parliament, which recently called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from the Afrin region of Syria, that the country’s troops will stay there until their work is done.

The European Parliament drafted a joint motion for a resolution that calls on the Turkish government to “withdraw its troops and play a constructive role in the Syrian conflict,” German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

The motion, which was to be decided by a vote on Thursday, declares that the European Parliament is “seriously worried about the escalating situation in Afrin,” the majority Kurdish area in northwest Syria where a Turkish military operation has been going on since Jan. 20.

Speaking in the presidential palace on Thursday, Erdoğan said: “It is said that the European Parliament is asking us to stop the Afrin operation. There is a woman responsible for enlargement; she is reported to be saying this. Don’t get excited in vain. Keep this in mind, we will not leave there as long as our work is not finished.”

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish government and President Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.

In the same speech, Erdoğan also talked about the need to teach Ottoman Turkish to students at school, while he condemned the use of foreign words instead of their Turkish counterparts.

“We no longer have any tolerance left for foreign words, communication in non-Turkish words. Ottoman Turkish needs to be taught at schools,” said the Turkish president.

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