The U.S. does not understand Afrin operation, Turkey says
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has slammed U.S. spokesperson Heather Nauert for her statement on Afrin, and accused the United States of using one terror group against another.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement on Monday expressing "deep concerns" over the situation in Afrin, the northwest Syrian town captured by Turkish forces in Operation Olive Branch on Sunday.
“It appears the majority of the population of the city, which is predominantly Kurdish, evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish backed opposition forces.” Nauert’s statement said.
The United States also expressed concern over reports regarding FSA members’ looting inside Afrin yesterday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded that the statement “showed that the US authorities still have not understood or do not want to understand the reasons, aims and nature of Operation Olive Branch.”
“Olive Branch operation is a counter-terrorism operation,” said the statement. “It does not target civilians, on the contrary it aims to rescue civilians from the domination of the (YPG) terror group and has enabled civilians to reach humanitarian aid."
Turkey’s launched its military operation on Jan. 20 to clear fighters from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, out of the Afrin area, which borders the Turkish provinces of Hatay and Kilis.
While the United States has collaborated closely with the YPG in its fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), Turkey regards the group as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, (PKK) an outlawed group that has been in conflict with Turkish armed forces since launching a separatist insurgency in the mid-1980s.
"The claim that the operation against terrorists in Afrin would harm the anti-ISIS operation has no basis whatsoever in reality. The real harm to the efforts to defeat terrorism in Syria is done by using one terror group against another,” said the Turkish foreign ministry’s statement, adding that the United States had effectively condoned YPG policies resulting in “demographic changes” in the areas under its control.