Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan answers questions of youths as he attends Istanbul Youth Festival at Yenikapi Eurasia Performing Arts Center in Istanbul, Turkey on May 04, 2018.
By Ali Bayaslan and Cemal Coskun : Turkey will maintain its presence in Afrin until it has been secured, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Speaking at the Istanbul Youth Festival, Erdogan said: “We will remain in Afrin and we will be there until we assure its security.”
“Idlib, Tal Rifaat and Manbij will be next,” he added, naming terror-struck Syrian provinces.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 this year to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin, amid growing threats from the region.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrin town center, which had been a major hideout for YPG/PKK terrorists since 2012.
Speaking about Operation Euphrates Shield, held from August 2016 to late March 2017, Erdogan said Turkey had delayed its right to intervene.
“It [Operation Euphrates Shield] was a delayed operation. We had to conduct it earlier. If we did it earlier, Kilis [southern province of Turkey] wouldn’t be hit so many times,” he said.
During Operation Olive Branch Kilis province was targeted by terrorists.
On March 19, 48 rocket attacks from across the border killed two civilians and injured 38 others, according to the Kilis governor.
Erdogan said Syrian, Persian, Moroccan and Algerian nationals work in the historic Spice Bazaar in Istanbul which was reopened following restoration work on Friday.
“We have marked an aim for ourselves and said: ‘If needed, let’s give them citizenship’. What happens when we don’t? They work illegally,” he added.
He said many of these workers are educated and if they become Turkish citizens, they will be able to earn a living.
The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, stocks load of spices, herbs, honeycomb and nuts. It has adorned the bosom of Istanbul’s historic peninsula over the last five centuries — with its exotic smell which greets first-time visitors.