Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan observed the final day of a large-scale joint military exercise in Turkey’s western Izmir province on Thursday.

“We will not allow terror corridors to thrive at the borders of our country. I’d like to stress once again here that we will complete the missing parts of our security line (in northern Syria) for sure,” said the president, referencing the presence of Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.

“We hope that none of our true allies and friends will oppose these legitimate security concerns of our country, and in particular, they will not choose terrorist organizations over us,” he noted. Turkey sees YPG as a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

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The Turkish army has launched four operations between 2016 and 2020 in northern Syria to eliminate terror threats and provide a safe zone that it claims would facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. Erdogan’s remarks on Syria came during his speech at one of the largest exercises by the Turkish Military in Izmir, in which 37 countries joined.

EFES-2022 Exercise’s first phase kicked off on May 20 with the participation of more than 10,000 personnel, including over 1,000 personnel from other countries under the direction of the Turkish Aegean Army Command.

The purpose of the drill was to develop the joint force’s military capabilities and skills and maintain combat readiness, a statement from the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said.

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