Mar 22 2018

Turkey says Merkel claims on Afrin support terrorism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s criticism of Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria is based on disinformation and such statements are supportive of terrorist organisations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Merkel’s statement to the Bundestag on Wednesday has “absolutely nothing to do with reality,” the ministry said. “We find it profoundly odd that some of our allies continue to look at current events through the eyes of terrorist organisations.”

Merkel said that, despite Turkey’s legitimate security concerns, Germany condemned the military incursion “in the strongest terms.” It had caused thousands of civilians to flee the area, she said.

Turkey launched ‘Operation Olive Branch’ to tackle fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Jan. 20, sparking opposition from the United States and European Union. While Ankara says the YPG are terrorists indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the group represents Kurdish ambitions for autonomy in Syria and the United States has used it as a fighting force to combat Islamic State (ISIS).

The military incursion is “an operation that sets a precedent on how fight against terrorism can be conducted without harming civilians,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. “There is no threat to the people of Afrin apart from mines and explosives planted by PYD/YPG. Once these are rapidly cleared, security and stability will be established and life will return to normal.

“Turkey has aimed to ensure its national security through its right to self-defence and to save Afrin from terrorists, returning it to its true owners ... We invite our allies to make an effort to establish lasting peace, security and stability in Syria in close coordination and consultation with our country, instead of putting themselves in a position supportive of terrorist organisations by giving credit to the disinformation campaigns against Turkey,” it said.