February 11 – The Iran Project – According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, so far over 68 civilians, including 21 children, have been killed in Turkish shelling in northwestern Syrian city of Afrin.
Turkey launched the alleged “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin on January 20 in a bid to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
So far several Iranian and foreign officials have shown reaction to the Turkish aggression against Afrin.
In a meantime, authorities in Afrin have called on global powers to halt Turkey’s attack on the region as thousands of people took to the streets in the Syrian city in condemnation of Ankara’s incursion.
Meanwhile, Ankara has warned that the Afrin offensive could expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij.
Turkey has also been assisting militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army to fight against the Kurdish fighters.
The Syrian government has condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
On Feb. 8, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to take Ankara’s Syria operation to Idlib after completing the current mission in Afrin, where they are targeting Kurdish militants.
“We want our Syrian brothers and sisters to return to their land, and now we want to do the same in Idlib what we have done in Afrin,” Erdogan said.
In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu , Hassan Rouhani expressed Iran’s readiness for helping Turkey with concerns about Syria’s future.
Iran’s president stressed the necessity of fighting against terrorism in Syria, adding “unfortunately, today some [states] want to redraw the geographical boundaries in the region, and after the failure in northern Iraq, they have designed another plot in northern Syria.”
Also in a wide-ranging press conference on Tuesday (Feb. 6) President Rouhani has condemned the US presence in the territory of the Syria, regarding ongoing Turkey’s operation in Syria’s Afrin region.
Besides, Rouhani has called on Turkey to stop its military operation in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin, saying it will only result in more deaths on both sides.
The Iranian president said his government believes “a military foreign intervention should be based on the authorization of the host country and its people”.
Iran emphasizes maintaining territorial integrity of Syria and respecting the national sovereignty of the country, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi stated, noting that “Islamic Republic of Iran is following the recent developments in Afrin, northern Syria with concern,” while expressing the hope for stopping the operation immediately to prevent developing tensions along Turkey-Syria borders.
Continuation of crisis will result in reinforcing Takfiri-terrorist groups in northern Syria and fan the flames of war in the country, he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Qasemi urged all countries, especially Turkey as a peace guarantor in Syria, to stay committed to political settlement procedure (Astana talks).
In a telephone conversation, the Turkish and Russian leaders has also agreed to hold a trilateral meeting with Iran on Syria, in Istanbul, Anadolu Agency quoted a presidential source saying but no information was provided on the exact date of the summit.
Erdogan and Vladimir Putin discussed Syria particularly Afrin and Idlib, during their phone conversation, said the source who reportedly asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media.
“Erdogan also shared information about Operation Olive Branch, which was launched on Jan. 20, to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria. The two leaders also agreed on accelerating the establishment of new observation points in the de-escalation zone Idlib.”
The European Parliament has condemned Turkey’s offensive in Afrin and its crackdown on opposition to its military operation.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) “condemn the recent arrests of journalists, activists, doctors and ordinary citizens for expressing their opposition to Turkey’s military intervention in the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in Syria,” the parliament stated.
The European lawmakers said they are also “seriously concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the Turkish assault and warn against continuing with these disproportionate actions.”
“Violation of International Law”
France’s foreign minister has made the worst possible statement on the Turkish-led “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said on Feb. 7 on his Twitter account.
Çelik criticized French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s statement claiming that Turkey had targeted civilians in the operation and “violated international law.”
“It is Turkey’s legitimate right to ensure the security of its borders. However, ensuring the security of borders does not mean that you can kill civilians,” Le Drian had said.
He called Le Drian’s remarks “the worst and the wrongest possible statement” on the operation.
“Turkey’s fight against terrorism is fully in line with international law. The ones who violate law and commit crimes are the ones who provide arms to the PYD/YPG [Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units],” Celik added.
He said Le Drian’s statement showed “double standard on terrorism.”
“The ones who refrain to mention our citizens killed by the terrorist organization now present a non-existing picture as reality. This is just ignoring the massacres of the terrorist organization we’re fighting in Afrin,” he noted.