Turkey’s Erdogan: Northeast Syria is suitable area for Arabs, not Kurds, to live

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that northeastern Syria is suitable for Arab people to live, but not Kurdish people, because of the area’s desert topography.

“What is important is to prepare a controlled life in this enormous area, and the most suitable people for it are Arabs. These areas are not suitable for the lifestyle of Kurds ... because these areas are virtually desert,” Erdogan said, pointing to a map of the Syria, in an interview with Turkish television channel TRT.

Erdogan’s remarks attempt to defend Ankara’s military offensive, “Operation Peace Spring,” against Kurdish-led militias in Syria, which is still ongoing according to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), despite a truce.

The SDF accused Turkey on Thursday of targeting three villages in northeast Syria despite a US-brokered ceasefire and a Turkey-Russia peace plan.

Ankara views the Kurdish-led fighters as terrorists and justifies the operation as self-defense.

Launched on October 9, the incursion sparked widespread condemnation from the US, who saw Kurdish forces as an effective tool in the fight against ISIS, and Arab leaders, who condemned the operation as an invasion of an Arab state’s land.

Erdogan specifically addressed the negative reaction of the Arab League to Turkey’s operation on Thursday.

“The Arab League’s reaction to our Operation Peace Spring is strange, as they have kicked Syria out of the union. Turkey is actively helping Arabs in the region while they are attacking them with barrel bombs,” he said in the interview with TRT.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on October 12 that the Turkish offensive was an “invasion of an Arab state’s land and an aggression on its sovereignty.”

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt condemned the Turkish military operation at its start.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the Turkish attack was causing the Syrian people further suffering and demanded all foreign forces withdraw from the country.

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