Turkey PM says Syria operation not singling out Kurds
AP photoTurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Aug. 26 denounced as a “bare-faced lie” suggestions in Western media that Ankara’s military operation in Syria was singling out Kurdish groups rather than jihadists.
Yıldırım has slammed German news magazine Der Spiegel over a report suggesting that Ankara was equally targeting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the military operation launched against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group in Syria’s Jarablus, calling it a “bare-faced lie.”
“This magazine [Der Spiegel] is probably living on another planet. Either it is unaware of what is going on around or it made reporting bare-faced lies its own business,” Yıldırım said while speaking at a press conference with Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov in Istanbul.
The premier also criticized the magazine’s claims of a long-term occupation of Syrian territory was in plan with the joint Euphrates Shield military operation by coalition forces.
“On one hand, you will make false claims that Turkey remains weak in the fight against ISIL and on the other hand you will report like that when it advances on ISIL and saves the lives of innocent people. I am not buying that. Those have no rhyme or reason. The duty of our soldiers is to provide security for our borders and guarantee life and property security for our citizens. The news apart from that is just a lie,” he said.
Ankara has said it will act in the operation against the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed-wing YPG, which Turkey regards as terror groups who represent neither the Kurdish nor the Syrian people.
The YPG is an ally of the United States in the fight against ISIL but Ankara argues this is a dangerous error.
Yıldırım’s remarks came a day after Turkish troops fired on YPG militants in northern Syria.
A Turkish security source said the army shelled the YPG south of Jarablus. The state-run Anadolu Agency described the action as warning shots.
Some of the blasts were triggered as Turkish security forces cleared mines and booby traps left by retreating ISIL militants, according to Nuh Kocaaslan, the mayor of Karkamış, which sits just across the border from Jarablus. He said three Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were killed but no Turkish troops.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said the PYD wanted to unite Kurdish-controlled cantons east of Jarablus with those further west. “We cannot let this happen,” he said.
“ISIL should be completely cleansed, this is an absolute must. But it’s not enough for us ... The PYD and the YPG should not replace ISIL there,” Işık told NTV.