Turkey accused of selling Afrin’s olives to EU countries - Fox News

The Turkish government is being accused of stealing olives from the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin and selling them to the European Union countries, Fox News reported on Friday.

Ankara last year launched the Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish militia controlling Afrin and the Turkish military and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels seized the control of the city in March after a two-month offensive.

According to Bernhard Guhl of Switzerland’s Conservative Democratic Party, Turkey is trying to peddle Afrin’s stolen olives as their own and use the funds to finance militias backed by Ankara, Fox News said. 

The locals in Afrin told Spanish newspaper El Público that the seized Syrian olives were pressed in local mills that had been taken over by Turkey-backed rebels. The oil is then transported to Turkey where it is blended and labeled as Turkish olive oil and later is sold to EU countries. 

At least 5,000 tons of olive oil have been produced which has raked in $80 million for Turkey, Saleh Ibo, the Agricultural Council Deputy Chairperson for the district of Afrin said to the Olive Oil Times.

Ankara-backed rebels have also been confiscating the fields and olive groves of people who have had to flee Afrin after Turkish forces captured the town,” said Ibo. “We can say that 80 percent of the olives in Afrin are being taken to Turkey with no cost through the [paramilitary groups] and the councils they formed.”

Turkey’s agriculture minister confirmed two months ago that Ankara had been seizing olives in Afrin, adding that Ankara’s aim was to prevent the crops to fall into the hands of Kurdish militia in the region.

Turkey sees Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and armed groups which has been fighting for self rule inside Turkey since 1984 and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, Washington, and Brussels.