By Zehra Ulucak
The Foreign Ministry on Saturday denied reports that citizens of Afrin were allegedly not being allowed back in their homes.
“The U.S. State Department spokeswoman has made unfortunate statements based on unconfirmed assumptions under the influence of PYD/YPG terrorist organization’s smear campaign in a news conference on May 3,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
U.S. State Department's Heather Nauert claimed the citizens of Afrin "are not being allowed back in their homes and communities"; however, sources on the ground dismissed the claim and said the return of locals to their homes was continuing in areas that had been cleared of mines and improvised explosives.
“First of all, it is the PYD/YPG that prevents local people from returning to Afrin,” Aksoy said.
The PYD/YPG is trying to produce new material in its smear campaign against Turkey, while the fact is explosives and mines planted by the terror group are a threat to the citizens and preventing them from going back home, he said.
“Turkey continues its efforts to normalize the situation in Afrin and to facilitate the safe return of local people,” Aksoy added.
"The humanitarian situation in Afrin being [described as] a ‘deep concern’ under the current circumstances is completely unfounded. The actual source of concern in northern Syria is the ongoing cooperation between countries we deem as our allies and PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists.”
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 this year to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin, amid growing threats from the region.
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, according to the Turkish military.
On March 18, Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army members liberated the town of Afrin, on the 58th day of the operation.