ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Sunday to bring peace and safety to Iraq and areas in Syria not under Turkish control and said terrorist organizations in those areas would be eliminated.
Turkey, which has backed some rebel groups in Syria, has been working with Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and Iran for a political resolution to the crisis.
It has so far carried out two cross-border operations along its border with Syria and set up a dozen military observations posts in the northern Syrian region of Idlib.
The rebel-held Idlib enclave is a refuge for civilians and rebels displaced from other areas of Syria as well as for powerful jihadist forces, but has been hit by a wave of air strikes and shelling this month.
The attacks posed a possible prelude to a full-scale Syrian government offensive, which Turkey has said would be disastrous.
Speaking in the southeastern province of Mus to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert of 1071, Erdogan vowed to bring peace and safety to Syria and Iraq.
“It is not for nothing that the only places in Syria where security and peace have been established are under Turkey’s control. God willing, we will establish the same peace in other parts of Syria too. God willing, we will bring the same peace to Iraq, where terrorist organizations are active,” he said.
Erdogan also linked regional conflicts and an ongoing currency crisis in Turkey, which he has cast as an “economic war”, to previous attempts to invade Anatolia, warning that the this would lead to the collapse of surrounding regions.
“Those who seek temporary reasons behind the troubles we have been facing recently are wrong, very wrong. The attacks we face today... are rooted in history,” he said.
“Don’t forget, Anatolia is a wall and if this wall collapses, there will no longer be a Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Balkans or Caucasus.”
Turkey’s lira has tumbled nearly 40 percent this year as investor concerns over Erdogan’s grip on monetary policy and a growing dispute with the United States put pressure on the currency.
Ankara has accused Washington of targeting Turkey over the fate of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried in Turkey on terrorism charges that he denies.
“Some careless people among us think this is about Tayyip Erdogan or the AK Party. No, this is about Turkey,” Erdogan said.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Alison Williams, Richard Balmforth
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