Turkey slams US State Department over Syria cease-fire comments
“The comments made by the U.S. State Department Spokesperson regarding the U.N. Security Council’s resolution [on besieged Eastern Ghouta], saying Turkey should ‘read it more closely,’ have no basis. [The comments] also show that they have not understood the focus of the resolution, or that they are trying to spin it,” Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.
“We urge the U.S. to focus on stopping the regime from attacking innocent civilians instead of making statements that help terrorists,” the statement said.
During a daily department briefing on Feb. 27, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said a cease-fire decision applies for the entirety of Syria. She said Afrin, where Turkey since Jan. 20 has been carrying out a military operation against People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, also falls under the resolution’s precinct.
“Turkey is more than welcome to go back and read the exact text of this U.N. Security Council resolution, and [I] would suggest that they do so,” Nauert said.
“Turkey is not one of the parties to the conflict in Syria,” Aksoy responded.
“In ‘Operation Olive Branch’ in Afrin, Turkey is exercising its right to self-defense based on Article 51 of the U.N. Charter,” he said.
The U.N. Security Council on Feb. 24 passed a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria “without delay.”
Turkey has stressed the cease-fire is meant to give relief to civilian areas hit hard by the Bashar al-Assad regime’s airstrikes, and is not related to Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Afrin against the YPG.
On Feb. 27, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the cease-fire resolution does not apply to Turkey’s operation in Afrin.
“There is a cleaning operation against terrorist organizations to save civilians living there [in Afrin], not an operation against civilians there. The focus of the resolution was not operations against terrorist organizations, but to end the massacre of civilians in Eastern Ghouta,” he said.
Turkey considers the YPG a terror group due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terror network by the U.S. and the European Union.