Turkey blasts US over Syria ceasefire comments

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Afrin operation is against terrorist organisations who are targeting Syria’s unity and Turkey’s national security and the area is not included among the places which are referred in the UN Security Council decision, Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

A Turkish soldier stands on an armoured vehicle in a village near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey, February 25, 2018.
A Turkish soldier stands on an armoured vehicle in a village near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey, February 25, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

Turkey on Wednesday sharply criticised the United States for arguing a ceasefire in Syria should apply to its military operation, as new tensions mounted between Ankara and Washington.

The United Nations Security Council, crucially including regime ally Russia, has agreed to a 30-day nationwide ceasefire in Syria although this has yet to be implemented to end the violence in opposition-held eastern Ghouta.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday if Turkey is “violating the UN cease-fire” in Syria, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that she would “encourage Turkey to go back and read the UN resolution.”

But Turkey blasted this response, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy saying it shows Nauert “couldn’t understand the focal point of the resolution or wants to distort it.”

Turkey has welcomed the ceasefire but repeatedly says the ceasefire does not affect its over the month-long operation in the Afrin region against the terror groups.

On January 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria’s Afrin.

“Afrin is not included among the places to which are referred in the [2401 UN Security Council] decision, where the humanitarian situation has become worrisome. Because what is happening in Afrin is not just clashes where no distinction is made between civilians and terrorists, but rather the operation against terrorist organisations who are targeting Syria’s unity and Turkey’s national security,” Aksoy said.

“Turkey is not one of the parties to the conflict in Syria. Turkey is exercising its right to self-defence in Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on the basis of Article 51 of the UN Charter.

“All concerned parties should realise the goals and objectives of the resolution without distorting it,” he added, urging against double standards and distortions.

“Turkey will continue to do its part to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people as it has until now,” he said.

Turkey’s operation against the YPG militia has also raised tensions with Washington, which works closely with the group in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which for over three decades has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state and is banned by Turkey, the US and the European Union as a terror group.

Ankara sees no distinction between the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups, both of whom have carried out deadly attacks on Turkish soil and entered into agreements on several occasions including in Raqqa.

A statement by the French presidency said on Monday that French President Emmanuel Macron told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in telephone talks that the ceasefire must be applied across the country “including in Afrin.”

But the Turkish foreign ministry Wednesday said Paris of giving a false readout of the conversation, saying Macron did not refer to Afrin in the discussion on the ceasefire.

It said Turkey had informed the French authorities that their statement showed a “lack of candour” and made the error of “misinforming public opinion.”

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation Syria’s Afrin aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region, as well as to protect Syrians.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies
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