Turkey qualifies claim at basis of its Syria incursion

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has qualified a claim at the heart of the case for the country’s military cross-border operation in the Syrian district of Afrin after a BBC fact checking investigation.

"Over the last year alone, more than 700 attacks have been launched from the Afrin area under PYD/YPG control against Turkish cities.", presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın wrote, referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım then altered the claim slightly in his speeches, saying that there had been around 700 attacks on military installations and bases from Afrin.

The 700 figure, and press reporting of it, was said to be one of the central pillars of the Turkish case made to its NATO allies for starting the operation.

However, BBC Reality Check was only able to find a total of 26 incidents emanating from Afrin, far fewer than the 700 cited by Turkish authorities.

On being challenged, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs qualified the claim.

“The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told Reality Check there had been 700 incidents of ‘harassment fire’, which it defines as ‘anything that does not directly target Turkey, but is felt as a side-effect of an ongoing incident or clashes in Syria,’ the BBC wrote.

“The MFA said it also had records of 90 attacks 'directly targeting Turkey' in the same area and period.”