Taking control over Syria is not a goal of the Turkish government, Ilnur Cevik, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told RT’s SophieCo show, adding that Turkey’s real aim is to defeat Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL).
Turkey “doesn’t want to gain any control on Syria. It wants to finish off Daesh, the so called ‘Islamic State’ militants. It wants to wipe them out,”Cevik said ahead of his visit to Moscow on February 26, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
He went on to say that “when we finish off Daesh, if the area is properly secured and we know that they will never come back, Turkey will not remain in that country.”
He also called the seizure of the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab and Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria “a great success.”
“It was a very, very successful operation. Nobody would’ve been able to secure this kind of operation. In 100 days, we’ve cleared away the entire region – 45km deep into Syria and 90km at length. So, it’s a huge area of more than 5,000 square km. That was a big achievement. Al-Bab itself is a very big achievement,” he said.
He also thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for ensuring cooperation between Moscow and Ankara and giving Turkey an opportunity to conduct its operation without any unnecessary interference from other warring parties in the region.
“The Russians and Turkey are very closely coordinating everything at the moment, and the Russians keeping the Syrians informed about what’s going on, and they are keeping the Syrians at bay. So, we have no problems with Russia or Syria. It’s a perfect, smooth operation at the moment, thanks to President Putin,” Cevik said.
Meanwhile, Turkish military confirmed that Syrian armed opposition groups backed by Turkey’s forces had retaken all Al-Bab neighborhoods from Islamic State, as reported by Reuters. They also said that the troops are now working on clearing mines and unexploded ordnance in the area.