- Title: Turkey vows to press Syria offensive despite warning from pro-Assad forces
- Date: 26th October 2016
- Summary: ANKARA, TURKEY (OCTOBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, AND SUDANESE FOREIGN MINISTER, IBRAHIM GHANDOUR, ARRIVING TO NEWS CONFERENCE REPORTERS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, SAYING: "We don't see Syrian regime attacking another terrorist organisation who tries to divide Syrian territory. Occasionally, supporters of regime pound Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) targets. But they only do this to show off. Who are they actually attacking? Free Syrian Army. The moderate opposition. They attack forces fighting against Daesh." OFFICIALS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, SAYING: "This kind of attack will not stop our fight against Daesh together with Free Syrian Army. Operation "Euphrates Shield" will continue. The only purpose of "Euphrates Shield" is to remove Daesh from this area." CAMERAMAN FILMING, OFFICIALS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, SAYING: "We are in dialogue with countries like Russia and Iran. But the sole aim of this operation is to cleanse this area from Daesh. Therefore, this operation will continue until Al-Bab is recaptured. We need to declare this area as a safe zone so people can return if they want to. The operation needs to continue and it will." NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, SAYING: "If there is an attack against Tal Afar or other towns, if there is a threat against us, we will take necessary measures. We are determined to protect the rights of our Turkmen brothers and we have the resources to do that. We never left our Turkmen brothers alone. If there are attacks against our Turkmen brothers there, we will not remain indifferent." MORE OF OFFICIALS LISTENING MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU AND IBRAHIM GHANDOUR SHAKE HANDS
- Embargoed: 10th November 2016 09:28
- Keywords: Turkey Syria Iraq Islamic State Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
- Location: ANKARA, TURKEY
- City: ANKARA, TURKEY
- Country: Syria
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00155N6FRB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday (October 26) Turkey will press its military offensive in Syria until Islamic State is driven from the town of al-Bab, despite a warning from forces allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a helicopter attack on the rebels it backs.
The attack late on Tuesday (October 25) killed two rebels and wounded five others, the Turkish military said, in what appeared to be the first direct clash with Syrian forces since Turkey launched a cross-border incursion in August.
"This kind of attack will not stop our fight against Daesh (Islamic State)," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in the capital Ankara.
"The sole aim of this operation is to cleanse this area from Daesh. Therefore, this operation will continue until Al-Bab is recaptured, "he added.
Turkey's incursion into Syria, called Euphrates Shield operation, launched two months ago to drive Islamic State from its border and prevent Kurdish militia fighters gaining ground in their wake, has complicated an already messy battlefield in northern Syria.
As the Turkish-backed rebels push south towards al-Bab, an Islamic State-held town 35 km. (22 miles) northeast of Aleppo, they face confrontation with both Kurdish and pro-Assad forces, whose frontlines lie close by.
It was the first time a direct clash between Syrian forces and the Turkish-backed rebels has been announced.
The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment, but it said last week that the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was a "dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria's sovereignty". It warned it would bring down any Turkish warplanes entering Syrian air space.
Turkey also fears the use of Shi'ite militias in the U.S.-backed offensive on Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, will trigger sectarian strife in the mainly Sunni region and trigger an exodus of refugees.
Cavusoglu also said Turkey would take necessary measures if there is an attack against the Iraqi city of Tal Afar.
A largely Iranian-trained Shi'ite paramilitary force said last week it would back Iraqi government forces advancing towards Tal Afar, about 55 km. (34 miles) west of Mosul.
Tal Afar's pre-war population of 150,000 to 200,000 was a mix of Sunni and Shi'ite ethnic Turkmens until Shi'ites fled the town after Islamic State arrived.
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