Turkey lambastes US statement that Syrian cease-fire includes Afrin

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Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey on Wednesday reacted to a statement by US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert calling on Ankara, which is conducting a military operation in the Afrin region of Syria, to “go back and read” the UN’s Syria cease-fire resolution adopted on Saturday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

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 on Tuesday pivoted and said, “I would encourage Turkey to go back and read this resolution” unanimously agreed by the UNSC.

“The remarks of the US State Department spokesperson are deprived of all basis and show that either [she] could not understand the focal point [of the resolution] or [she] wants to distort it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

“Turkey is not one of the parties to the conflict in Syria,” he said.

“In Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Turkey is exercising its right to self-defense based on Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

“All concerned parties should realize the goals and objectives of the resolution without distorting it,” he added, urging against double standards and distortions.

“Turkey will continue to do its part to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people as it has until now,” he said.

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.

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