The safe zones established as a result of lengthy efforts and sacrifices are the most peaceful and livable places in Syria today, the Turkish president said Thursday.

“Turkey was left alone at nearly every step taken during the Syrian crisis,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a gathering in Istanbul.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Read more: Turkey's Erdogan: 'Safe zones in Syria most livable'