By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) – With the Operation Peace Spring, Turkey aimed to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria, Turkish vice president said on Monday.
"More than 4,000 square-kilometer [1,544-mile] area has been cleared from the terrorists [in northern Syria]," Fuat Oktay told the lawmakers during his 2020 budget speech in the Turkish parliament.
With the Operation Peace Spring, Turkey also aimed to reduce its security concerns, Oktay noted.
He added that Turkey also aimed to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria with the operation.
"Turkey's fight against terrorism in the Operation Peace Spring region will continue until the terror in the area is completely removed," Oktay said.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from a planned Syrian safe zone.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some 2 million refugees.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The terrorist YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.