Feb 28 2018

U.S. says Turkey breaking UN ceasefire in Syria

NATO ally Turkey is breaking the United Nations-agreed ceasefire for Syria as it continues a military incursion into the country, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

A UN Security Council resolution, passed on Saturday, demands that all parties cease hostilities without delay and ensure full and comprehensive implementation, unless they are fighting Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, or the al-Nusrah Front, Nauert told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

“Turkey is more than welcome to go back and read the exact text of this UN Security Council resolution, and I would suggest that they do so,” she said.

Turkey is continuing military operations in Syria’s Afrin region against the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara says the Kurdish militants are indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognised as terrorists by the United States and European Union. The incursion began on Jan. 20.

The PKK has fought a three-decade war for autonomy for Turkey's Kurds at the cost of about 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish. The YPG, which supports the same leader as the PKK -- Abdullah Ocalan -- is not recognised as a terrorist group internationally and has been helping U.S. forces fight ISIS in Syria.

“I think the resolution was clear here in naming exactly which groups are considered to be exempt from the ceasefire,” Nauert said.

Russia, a signatory of the resolution, was also breaking the resolution, of which it is a co-signatory, because of its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was continuing hostilities, Nauert said.