Turkey’s parliamentary main opposition CHP leader has paid a visit to the troops on the Syrian border, days after he criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for visiting a military outpost along with celebrities.
"I have met with our soldiers at the Sakız Border Post. I have found them in good spirit. Our heroic army is providing security not only for Turkey but for the entire region," Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters after his visit in Hassa province of Hatay, on the Syrian border on April 14.
"The Turkish army makes its deterrence capacity well felt in the region," he said.
On January 20, Turkish army officially declared the launch of an offensive targeting the positions of the U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in Afrin region. The operation had been conducted jointly with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorist group.The Syrian government condemned the actions of Turkish AKP government as undermining Syria's territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to create an area to locate the subcontracted forces in Syria's north under Turkish government's control.
CHP leaders' visit came after a row between him and Erdoğan who held a similar visit to another border post with the company of celebrities. The presidential visit created a mass debate because low-profile celebrities were seen as singing and playing their instruments during the meeting with the troops on the border.
"Well, you were having fun with our artists? You were asking them 'What you are doing along with this man?' What is your business in Hatay? Why (he had to go)? Because he was criticized. He was told 'It’s wrong, you also have to go'," Erdoğan said in a rally in İstanbul on April 14.
However, CHP lent full support to the AKP government's military operation in Afrin.
"We are totally confident about our brave army and give full support to the operation. "What we care about is the security of our borders. No countries would want a terrorist organization on their border,” Kılıçdaroğlu told Hürriyet daily on Jan. 20.
CHP Vice Chairman and spokesman Bülent Tezcan similarly voiced the party’s support for the operation on Jan. 21 during a press conference organized at the party headquarters in Ankara.
"Our glorious army has initiated an important operation. Our support is full. We stand behind this operation as the nation and will continue to do so," Tezcan said.