US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert at a press briefing on Tuesday urged Turkey to read the entire UN Security Council resolution passed over the weekend for a cease-fire in Syria while avoiding saying that the Turkish government should abide by it.
When asked by a reporter what parts of Syria are covered in the resolution, Nauert said it applies “throughout Syria,” with operations against designated terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) specifically exempted, adding that Afrin, where Turkey is conducting an offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is “certainly within Syria.” Pressed several times to agree that Turkey, which says it is not bound by the cease-fire and is free to continue going after the Kurds in Afrin, is violating the UN cease-fire, Nauert pivoted and said, “I would encourage Turkey to go back and read this resolution” unanimously agreed by the UNSC on Saturday.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ had said on Sunday that the UNSC 30-day cease-fire across Syria would not have “any effect on the operation that Turkey is pursuing” in Afrin, adding that Ankara would continue to fight what he called “terrorists” in Syria.
Turkey deployed police special forces to the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin on Monday for a “new battle” in its five-week campaign, known as Operation Olive Branch, against the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday told his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that the United Nations Security Council call over the weekend for a cease-fire across Syria also applied to Syria’s Afrin region.