Erdogan gives death toll of Syria campaign

Turkey’s seven-month operation in northern Syria left 67 service personnel martyred, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

More than 500 fighters from the Free Syrian Army, who were supported by the Turkish military as they tackled Daesh and PKK/PYD terrorists during Operation Euphrates Shield, were also martyred.

“These operations will continue if terrorist organizations do not completely withdraw… from our border regions,” Erdogan said in a speech to supporters in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa.

The campaign was launched on Aug. 24 with the capture of Jarabulus and was called off on March 29, a month after the liberation of Al-Bab from Daesh.

Around 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of territory were cleared of Daesh, according to Defense Minister Fikri Isik, and the PKK/PYD were prevented from linking their territory on Turkey’s southern border.

“Whether its name is Daesh or PKK/PYD, no terrorist organization can be allowed to wave flags right beside our border,” Erdogan said.

The casualty toll from the campaign was previously revealed by the military but this is thought to be the first time it has been mentioned by a senior political figure.

During his speech — five days before Turkey heads to the polls to vote on switching from a parliamentary to presidential system — Erdogan renewed his pledge to introduce a referendum on capital punishment.

He said a draft bill on capital punishment would be submitted to parliament in the event of a vote to increase his powers on Sunday.

The call to resume the death penalty surfaced in the wake of last July’s attempted coup and Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli have said they would support such a move.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as it worked towards EU membership and a return would end the country’s chances of joining the bloc.

Source: Anadolu

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