Critics of Afrin operation are ‘communists, atheists’ like - Turkish FM

Addressing the students of Istanbul’s Yıldız Technical University on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu was quoted by the Turkish public broadcaster TRT saying that Turkey’s military operation only targets the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and not the civilians.

Çavuşoğlu said those who criticise the Turkish military offensive in Syria’s Afrin because of the civilian death toll, “share the same Marxist, communist, atheist ideology” with the Kurdish YPG militia.

“Our operations in Turkey and Syria are not against our brothers and sisters living in the region. Our operations against the PKK in Iraq are not against our brothers in Iraq." Çavuşoğlu said,  "We need to distinguish between the YPG/ PKK in Syria, and our Kurdish brothers and sisters in Syria. Today, we are hosting 350,000 Syrian Kurds in Turkey.”

Ankara considers YPG as an offshoot the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the insurgent Kurdish group in Turkey which has been involved in a separatist conflict in the southeast region of Turkey intermittently since 1984.

Since the launch of the Afrin offensive on Jan. 20, Turkish army troops and Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighters killed 1,141 YPG militants, Turkish officials said. Çavuşoğlu maintained that there were no civilian casualties in the Afrin operation Syria so far.