Turkey not distracted from fight against ISIL, presidential spokesman says in CNN article
The Turkish military’s cross-border military operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin district of Syria does not create a distraction from the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said.
“Some Western allies see this as a distraction from the fight against ISIS but this is not true,” Kalın said in his article published on the U.S. broadcaster CNN.com website on Feb. 2, using another acronym for ISIL.
“Eliminating all terrorist threats from Syria should be welcome as a right step to ensure peace and security and protect Syria’s territorial integrity. Furthermore, the Olive Branch Operation is fully legitimate within the framework of self-defense as it is enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter,” he said.
Kalın pointed out that rockets fired from Afrin, controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, claimed two lives at a mosque in the Turkish border province of Kilis on Jan. 24 and also killed a 17-year-old girl, Fatma Avlar, at her home in the district of Reyhanlı in Hatay, another border province on Turkey’s south.
Saying that the PYD is described on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) website as “the terrorist organization PKK’s Syrian wing,” Kalın wrote: “It should be noted that the PKK, which Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist organization, uses Syrian territories to train militants, plan terror attacks and provide weapons and ammunition to PKK militants in Turkey. Over the last year alone, more than 700 attacks have been launched from the Afrin area under PYD/YPG control against Turkish cities. Turkey has had enough and decided to act.”
Kalın also referred to warnings from the United Nations, stating that in Afrin families are prevented from leaving the area and there are reports that members of local Christian communities have been kidnapped and forced to fight along the YPG forces.
“The use of human shields to stop Turkey’s lawful steps in the region should ring alarm bells in the White House, which has been told by policymakers that the YPG was a reliable ally in Syria,” he added.
“Those who fail to see the PKK threat in Syria are making a historic mistake,” the spokesperson said.
“To be clear, Turkey’s current efforts are part of a long-term strategy to rebuild the war-torn country. In the wake of Operation Euphrates Shield, which resulted in the removal of ISIS terrorists from Jarabulus, Dabiq and Al-Bab in 2016, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have returned to their homes,” he said.