Turkey’s Erdogan: ‘Safe zones in Syria most livable’

The safe zones established as a result of lengthy efforts and sacrifices are the most peaceful and livable places in Syria today, the Turkish president said Thursday.

"Turkey was left alone at nearly every step taken during the Syrian crisis," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a gathering in Istanbul.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.

Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so that a safe zone can be created to repatriate some 2 million refugees.

On Oct. 22, Turkey and Russia reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey's border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia would conduct joint patrols there. The 150-hour period ended on Tuesday.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of PKK.

Erdogan stressed those who did nothing except erecting barbed wires for Syrian refugees in the last eight years, continue blocking efforts to ease "homesickness" of the refugees.

He reiterated that Turkey's expenditure on refugees for the period of over 8.5 years has exceeded $40 billion, while support from the EU through NGOs was Euros 3 billion ($3.3 billion) only.

Turkey hosts around 4 million refugees -- mainly from Syria -- more than any other country in the world.

"We did not provide all these services with any expectation, but as our human and moral responsibilities," he added.

Erdogan went on saying that unsolicited "advice" was the only support which Turkey received from the international community.

"The mentality which considers a drop of oil more valuable than a drop of blood sees nothing but its own interest in Syria and around the world. When we look around, we see only humans, souls and life," he said, adding that this is what differentiates Turkey from others.

He also noted that the average life expectancy in Syria, which has suffered major devastations, has declined from 73 to 63.

- Condolences to Pakistan

The president also wished God's mercy upon 65 people who lost their lives in a train accident in Pakistan, and wished speedy recovery to those wounded.

A deadly fire broke out on a passenger train in the northeast Pakistan on Thursday morning.

Source: Anadolu Agency