ANKARA, Oct 22 (XINHUA/APP): Turkey has been closely monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone in northern Syria, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday, hours before an end to the pause period for Turkey’s cross-border operation.
So far 136 vehicles have left the region since Thursday when Turkey and the U.S. agreed to the 120-hour pause in Turkey’s Syria operation in order to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone, Lt. Cmdr. Nadide Sebnem Aktop told reporters in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.
“While the Turkish Armed Forces fully abide by the agreement [with the U.S.] on the establishment of a safe zone, 42 harassing fire/violations were carried out by YPG/PKK terrorists so far,” Aktop said.
Turkey always reserves the right to self-defense against harassments/violations, which are instantly shared with the U.S, she stressed.
Aktop said: “As part of Operation Peace Spring, 160 settlements and 2,200 square kilometers (849 square miles) area has been taken under control and 775 terrorists have been neutralized.”
A total of 40 mines and 222 handmade explosives have been defused so far, she added.
“After 10 p.m. (1900GMT) we will continue the field search for tunnels and clear improvised explosive device and mines in the area.
“If any terrorist elements are encountered, they will be neutralized,” she responded when asked about the upcoming end to the pause.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate 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. The pause for the anti-terror operation will end Tuesday night.
In talks Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having a safe zone 32-kilometers (20-miles) deep south of the Turkish border in northern Syria.