Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at an event near Ankara, January 2018.
(photo credit: HANDOUT/REUTERS)
In a rally of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party on Sunday, the Turkish leader promised a 6-year-old girl she'd be honored if she is "martyred," The New York Times reported.
Erdogan called the girl, who was wearing a military-style outfit and a maroon beret, on stage. "We have our maroon berets here. But maroon berets never cry! She has a Turkish flag in her pocket, too. If she is martyred, they will lay a flag on her, God willing!" he said to the cheering crowds.
"She is ready for everything, isn't she?" he asserted, to which the little girl, sobbing, responded with an emphatic "Yes!"
The Maroon Berets, the Special Forces Command of the Turkish army, have been fighting in the Syrian enclave of Afrin since last month, and the government has been campaigning nationally in support of the war, using billboards, banners, publicly saluting fallen soldiers and praising them as martyrs, the New York Times
‘If you’re martyred, we’ll honor you!’ – Erdogan (RT/Youtube)
On Monday, Turkey deployed police special forces
in the Afrin region for a "new battle" against the Kurdish YPG militia, despite a UN call on the weekend for a ceasefire across Syria.
Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, supported by Turkish air strikes, have pushed the Kurdish fighters back from most of Turkey's border with Afrin since the beginning of the campaign, but most of the larger towns in the region remain under YPG control.
Reuters contributed to this report.