Turkey vows to investigate reports of Afrin looting
Turkish officials say they will investigate all claims of looting going on in the Syrian city of Afrin, after reports of looting by Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who seized the city a day earlier during “Operation of Olive Branch.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu vowed on March 20 that Turkey would “not allow looting in Afrin.”
“We are sensitive to looting and inhumane treatment. We will not allow it in Afrin. The whole world knows that our security forces have not done any such thing anyway. But we do not expect the Free Syrian Army would do such a thing either. We also know them. If there is any complaint or demand there, we will examine it carefully,” Çavuşoğlu said in a press conference with Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay.
Meanwhile, Turkish Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on March 19 that Turkey would investigate all claims of looting by FSA fighters.
“There might be some groups here and they may be involved in that kind of action. We take that very seriously and necessary measures will be taken to address that issue,” Kalın said in an interview with Al Jazeera English.
“We have not bombarded the city. Our soldiers and FSA fighters have been very careful in avoiding civilian casualties. They have been very careful in not attacking any of the houses or historical sites,” he added.
“We want to assure everyone in Afrin, as well as those who had to flee to Turkey, Aleppo, or other places, that Afrin is a safe place for them to return to,” Kalın said.
He also stressed that Turkey coordinated “Operation Olive Branch” with Russia, Iran and the United States and has been “very transparent” from the start.
On March 19, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. is “concerned” about reports of looting in Afrin.
“We are concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin. We have repeatedly expressed our serious concern to Turkish officials regarding the situation in Afrin,” Nauert added.