Civilians, historic structures unharmed in Syria op: Defense Ministry
Civilians, historical and religious structures including churches were undamaged in Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria, country’s Defense Ministry said on Nov. 4.
As announced in the statements made before the start of Peace Spring Operation, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have neither targeted civilians, historical/cultural/religious structures nor harmed the environment, the ministry said in a statement.
These principles were never compromised during the execution of the ongoing operation as in the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch Operations at the expense of delays in operation, it added.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to clear northeastern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, of terrorists and create a safe zone along the border, thereby paving the way for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.
Ankara has repeatedly expressed its determination to clear northern Syria of both ISIL and YPG/PKK terrorist groups.
The ministry said the terrorist organization PKK/YPG and its supporters tried to slander the operation before it started claiming Turkey would target Kurdish people and other ethnic and religious groups, especially Christians.
They attempted to conceal their crimes against humanity from the world, it added.
"However, in the Operation Peace Spring, the Turkish Armed Forces unmasked the terrorist organization PKK/YPG and its supporters, and it was revealed that the terrorist organization made a church in Tal Abyad a mortar emplacement and that they hung the posters of terrorist Abdullah Öcalan in some of the churches," the statement said.
The ministry published the photos of the churches in Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain on its website to show "that they have not been damaged in any way during the Operation Peace Spring".
"Our soldiers in the region closely care about all ethnic and religious structures, and great effort is made to meet all their needs, including the needs arising from the pre-operation period," the ministry said.
Ankara and Washington reached a deal on Oct. 17 to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
On Oct. 22, Turkey also reached an agreement with Russia on a 10-point plan to force the YPG/PKK to withdraw from the planned terror-free zone.
The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.
Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.