Feb 26 2018

Turkey, Iran to ignore U.N. ceasefire in Syria

Turkey and Iran have said they will continue their military activities in Syria despite the passing of a United Nations resolution last week calling for a 30-day ceasefire.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Sunday that the ceasefire would not have "any affect on the operation that Turkey is pursuing" in Afrin, adding that Ankara would continue to fight what he called terrorists in Syria.

The Turkish army invaded Afrin on Jan. 20 aiming to wrest the region from People’s Protection Units (YPG) control. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation due to its links with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The YPG denies any direct link to the PKK and says it is prepared to respect the ceasefire "while reserving the right to retaliate ... in case of any aggression by the Turkish army."

Iran and the Syrian government have said they will abide by the 30-day United Nations ceasefire except, crucially, around Damascus where attacks on the rebel held area of Eastern Ghouta would continue.

A humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding in Eastern Ghouta, despite an outcry over the situation from Western capitals, the United Nations, and humanitarian groups.

"Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It's high time to stop this hell on Earth." said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres after reports of continuing air strikes on Monday

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert maximum pressure on the Syrian government to halt the fighting in Eastern Ghouta during a Feb. 25 phone call, according to a German government spokesman.