Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday warned the EU on that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkeys military offensive in Syria.
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, Erdogan said in a speech to his party.
Turkey launched an operation into Syrian territory on Wednesday, aimed at combating Kurdish militants tied to insurgents in its own territory.
Erdogan said 109 terrorists had been killed so far in the operation, which would soon cover ground from Manbij in northern Syria to the Iraqi border some 350 kilometres (220 miles) east.
God willing, we will crush these snakes heads quickly, he said.
What we are trying to do is prevent the establishment of a terrorist state on our southern border. This cannot happen.
Turkey currently hosts 3.6 million refugees from the eight-year conflict in Syria -- the highest number in the world.
Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey agreed to prevent refugees from leaving towards Europe in exchange for six billion euros and visa-free travel for its citizens, but has frequently criticised the lack of assistance from Brussels. EU has threatened to withhold 4 billion euros over the offensive.
One aim of the military operation is to establish a safe zone in which at least one million Syrian refugees can be repatriated, after the long-term presence of refugees became an increasingly political liability.
Meanwhile, Turkey faced the threat of US sanctions from hell.
Turkey pounded Syria with jets and artillery and sent in troops three days after Trump told his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would withdraw US troops effectively serving as a buffer.
While Trump has long sought to extricate the United States from Syrias civil war, his decision triggered furious criticism from US lawmakers hoping to protect the Kurdish forces, who led the fight against the Islamic State group in the country.
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would freeze all US assets of Turkeys leadership, including Erdogan, and impose sanctions on entities that do business with Turkeys military until Ankara withdraws from Syria.
Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator who is usually a steadfast supporter of Trump, had warned Turkey of sanctions from hell if it went ahead with the invasion.
Faced with harsh rebukes, the mogul-turned-president -- already under pressure in an impeachment inquiry -- has sent mixed messages and threatened at the White House Wednesday to wipe out Turkeys economy if Ankaras assault was not carried out in as humane a way as possible.
Again, he defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria saying Kurds didnt help us in Normandy. He was referring to Kurds role in World War II. But he also said the circumstances are different now as they are fighting for their land now.