Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Saturday that Turkish forces won’t leave Syrian territory until the people of the country ask Ankara to withdraw.
“We will not leave Syria until the people of Syria say, ‘Thank you, you may leave now'”, the president said at a rally in Istanbul.
The October military campaign, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, was launched on 9 October, with Turkish military and allied militants fighting against Daesh terrorists and the local Kurdish forces.
The offensive was criticised by the US and European countries, with Washington imposing sanctions on Ankara over the issue. The sides, however, came to terms after the US and Turkey agreed to a 120-hour ceasefire that later became permanent.
At the same time, President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin established joined patrols on the Syrian border to ensure peace in the region.
The operation allowed Ankara to create a so-called safe zone on a 75-mile stretch of land between the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad, in order to resettle Syrian refugees there.
A large portion of this land was previously controlled by Kurdish militants, which are considered to be terrorists by Turkey due to their alleged links to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), banned in the country.