Mar 02 2018

Afrin not part of UN ceasefire for Syria, Turkey says

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Bekir Bozdağ said a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire throughout Syria did not apply to the northwestern district of Afrin, currently under attack by Turkish troops.

Bozdağ was responding to a U.S. State Department call for Turkey to “go back and read” the UN Security Council ceasefire resolution. The resolution demands all parties “cease hostilities without delay ... for a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria”.

“We have read this decision, we have read it well. It would do them good to read the basics of it,” Bozdağ was quoted by pro-government Milliyet newspaper as saying.

“This decision will not affect Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch,” he said, referring to the cross-border offensive against the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin that began on Jan. 20.

The ceasefire, Bozdağ said, was intended to stop the humanitarian crisis in East Ghouta and in Raqqa, but Afrin was not among the places listed.

Plus, the Afrin operation included the Islamic State among its targets, he said, meaning that the United States was not being frank in its reasons for wishing to stop the operation.

“It is impossible for us to accept illogicalities like ‘you cannot fight terrorist groups that the United States is not focusing on’,” Bozdağ said.

“Terrorist organisations are all terrorist organisations.”

Bozdağ also responded to reports of civilian casualties in the operation.

“Forget the death of an innocent civilian, up until now no innocent civilian has even had a nosebleed,” he said.