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POSSIBLE TURKISH OPERATION IN N.SYRIA AIMED AT SPECIFIC TARGETS

Turkey is ready to launch another operation in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria's territorial integrity.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sunday that Turkey is ready to launch "Operation Peace Spring" east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to clear the region of terrorists.

"It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started," Erdogan said.

Erdogan reiterated that his country aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists.

"Turkey backs the territorial integrity of Syria and the political and administrative unity of Syrians," he said earlier.

He added that the only reason for Turkey's presence in Syria is that the terror threat towards its borders has turned into a barrier which is preventing the return of Syrians.

"Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, we have supported the territorial integrity of this country, and we will continue to support it," said Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Turkey has no designs on any country's territory, said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, referring to a possible operation in northern Syria.

"As part of Syria's territorial integrity, the safe zone plan has two purposes: to secure our borders by eliminating terror elements and to ensure the safe return of refugees," Kalin added.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.

Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross to Europe since 2011, when the civil war in Syria began.

Source: National News Agency