Turkey’s Afrin operation helping Syrian Kurds: Turkish envoy to US says in letter to Wall Street Journal
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s operation into the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin, across Turkey’s border, is meant to rid the region of militants so Syrians who rightfully own the land can return, Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç has said in a letter to the Wall Street Journal.
“‘Operation Olive Branch’ is not targeting the Kurds,” Kılıç wrote in his letter published on Feb. 13.
“On the contrary, Turkey aims at clearing Afrin from the terrorist usurpers and returning the land to its rightful owners: the Syrian people, including the vast majority of Syrian Kurds who do not share the murderous ideology of the PYD-YPG,” he said, referring to the groups Turkey is fighting against in Afrin, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Kılıç wrote to rebuff claims in an op-ed by French author Bernard-Henri Levy published last week by the paper.
“Bernard-Henri Levy bases his defamatory piece on the oft-repeated falsehood that the PYD-YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], represents all Syrian Kurds,” he wrote. “This is first and foremost an insult to the 300,000 Syrian Kurds who fled to Turkey to escape PYD-YPG atrocities.”
Kılıç said Levy “tries to whitewash” the YPG militants “in a shameful attempt to portray it as the savior of the West, while ignoring the assassinations, persecutions and ethnic cleansing it has perpetrated in all the Syrian lands it has occupied. The PYD-YPG abuses have been well-documented by independent human-rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”
Kılıç also cited Turkey’s previous success in taking back Syrian soil from militants.
“Turkey was also the first country to launch a successful ground offensive against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Syria through Operation Euphrates Shield [OES] and suffered horrific reprisal terror attacks at home. Today, areas liberated through OES have become a rare haven of stability and prosperity within Syria. Syrians have been flocking back to their homes. Turkey aims to replicate this success story in Afrin,” wrote Kılıç.
“Not a single Syrian Kurd has dared to return to the areas currently held by the PYD-YPG,” he added. “The Syrian lands grabbed by this terrorist organization are in ruins and their demographics altered. Allowing and encouraging a terrorist organization to steal even more land in Syria, all the while turning a blind eye to the atrocities against original inhabitants, will only perpetuate the root causes that led to the emergence of Daesh/ISIS in the first place,” he said, using other acronyms for ISIL.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched “Operation Olive Branch” to remove YPG militants from Afrin.