By Sorwar Alam
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Monday criticized the U.S. statement on ongoing operation in Syria’s Afrin region, saying Washington did not comprehend the reason for Turkey’s move.
In a message posted on his official Twitter account, Bozdag, who is also the government’s spokesman, said: “The latest statement reveals that the U.S. still cannot or does not want to comprehend the reason, purpose and nature of Operation Olive Branch.”
The deputy premier’s remarks came after the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert released a statement on the situation in Afrin.
Bozdag said Turkey’s counterterrorism operation in Afrin was “not against civilians or Kurds but against terrorists”.
He said civilians remained unharmed during Operation Olive Branch.
“Civilians were unharmed; access to water, medicine, food and their other needs were not prevented in Afrin during Operation Olive Branch,” he said.
He added that Turkey had carried out the operation successfully without harming civilians or causing any destruction to residential areas.
He also rejected the claim that the operation against terrorists in Afrin would affect the fight against Daesh, terming such assertions “groundless and false”.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats posed from the region.
On Sunday, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since 2012.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch has aimed to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from the cruelty and oppression of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.