Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Europe against criticizing his country’s newly-launched military incursion into Syria, claiming he could allow millions of refugees to pour into the EU if he so chooses.
In a speech to lawmakers from his AK party, Erdogan warned that there would be repercussions if Europe viewed Turkey’s operation in Syria as an invasion.
Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you.
The threat comes after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that Ankara “must cease the ongoing military operation” in northeast Syria. He said that the incursion would “not work” and that Turkey should not expect Europe’s help with creating a so-called “safe-zone.”
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Wednesday, in order to create a “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border. The area is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias, which Ankara views as terrorists. Erdogan claimed that Turkish forces have already killed 109 “militants” since the operation began.
US forces withdrew from the region earlier this week, prompting accusations that US President Donald Trump had betrayed Washington’s Kurdish allies. As a result, leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have signaled that they might turn to Damascus and Moscow to repel the Turkish incursion.
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