Allegations that Turkish army has killed Afrin civilians lies - Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sharply criticized claims the Turkish military has inflicted civilian casualties during its ongoing operation in Afrin.
“People say we (Turkish soldiers) are killing civilians. This is unconscionable and immoral. The blood of civilians is not on our hands, but on yours. You are doing this and you are still doing this. We are asking those with weapons in their hands who attack our citizens this, “Why did you come here from 10,000 km away?” No one can ask us why we are protecting our borders. Not one should forget that our nation and our soldiers are not an army of cowards.”
Erdoğan went on, “Those who see they cannot cope with Turkey on the (world) stage have started a propaganda war with lies and slander. It will not work. Faced with the truth, the lies will melt and evaporate like a block of ice exposed to the sun”
Erdoğan made his comments on Saturday Feb. 24th whilst addressing a crowd outside a Justice and Development (AKP) congress in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaraş.
He was also upbeat about the success of the Turkish military operation in Afrin, saying, “We have drowned those who attacked our soil, our tanks and our troops in their lairs.”
Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, which started on Jan. 20th, aims to clear the region of Kurdish militia forces, which have controlled Afrin since 2012. So far, the Turkish army says it has neutralised nearly 2000 enemy fighters, while avoiding any civilian casualties.
However, Human Rights Watch, in a report issued on Friday, suggested the Turkish military has failed to take sufficient precautions to avoid civilian casualties, having investigated 3 separate Turkish attacks in Afrin during January in which at least 26 civilians died, many of them children.