UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM DEPUTY PREMIER
By Aylin Sirikli and Yasemin Kalyoncuoglu
If the PYD/PKK terror group does not leave Syria's Manbij, Turkey will move there and towards east of Euphrates River, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sunday.
In remarks made to CNN Turk, Bozdag, who is also a spokesman for the government, said the PYD/PKK terrorists had to leave Manbij, a strategic city west of the Euphrates in northern Syria.
"If they [PYD/PKK] do not leave Manbij, we will move into Manbij and towards the east of Euphrates," he said.
Bozdag added that 932 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists had been "neutralized" since the beginning of the Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
The deputy premier said the operation would continue until terrorism, a threat to both Turkey and its neighbors, was completely eradicated.
"It [the operation] will last as long as it is necessary. This is a long-running fight," he said.
The deputy prime minister also gave information about the casualties in the operation, saying so far, 13 Turkish troops had been martyred and 39 injured.
He added 30 FSA fighters had also been martyred, and 158 others wounded.
Bozdag also expressed his "extreme displeasure" over the possibility of terror groups using U.S.-supplied weapons against NATO ally Turkey.
He said the U.S. had delivered some 5,000 trucks and 2,000 freighters loaded with weapons had been provided to PYD and YPG.
"This is unacceptable and inexplicable."
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