Erdoğan, Macron discuss Afrin operation over phone
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has discussed Turkey’s ongoing operation in Afrin during a phone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 23.
Erdoğan expressed his discomfort over the criticism pouring in over the operation, according to a presidential source.
The Turkish military, along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched “Operation Olive Branch” against the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin on Jan. 20. Erdoğan on March 23 vowed that operations “will not end in Afrin. Next are Idlib and Manbij.”
In February Macron said a 30-day United Nations cease-fire adopted on Syria also applied to Turkey’s operation in Afrin. The French leader had also warned Turkey against using the operation as an “excuse to invade Syria.”
Erdoğan said the operation aimed to eliminate “terror” threats, referring to Kurdish militant groups, and to help restore peace for civilians in Afrin.
The two leaders also discussed bilateral and regional issues, the source added.
Speaking about a Turkey-EU summit in Varna, Bulgaria scheduled for March 26, Erdoğan said Turkey attached great importance to its relations with the EU and revival of the membership process
Erdoğan also extended his condolences to Macron over a deadly hostage standoff at a supermarket in southern France, in which a gunman was killed by security forces.