Turkey's EU minister slams French remarks on Syrian op

Turkey's fight against terrorism is fully in line with international law, says Omer Celik, rebuffing French FM's remarks

By Sena Guler

ANKARA (AA) – France’s foreign minister has made the worst possible statement on the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in Syria, said Turkey’s EU affairs minister on Wednesday.

Omer Celik criticized French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s statement claiming that Turkey had targeted civilians in the operation and “violated international law.”

Celik quoted Le Drian as saying on Twitter: “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,”

On Celik’s Twitter account, 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,” Celik added, referring to the terrorist group that is the primary focus of the operation.

He said Le Drian’s statement showed a “double standard on terrorism,” adding:

“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 organisation we're fighting in Afrin.”

- Seven killed by PYD/PKK since Jan. 21

Over the past few years, Turkey's border provinces of Hatay and Kilis have been subject to over 700 attacks from Afrin.

Since Jan. 21 alone, rocket and mortar attacks launched by the PYD/PKK terrorist group in the Syrian enclave of Afrin have killed seven civilians and injured 113 in Hatay and Kilis.

Celik also slammed people who criticize Turkey but not the countries that provide arms to terrorist groups.

“Everyone should watch where they stand while opposing Turkey with respect to our most lawful fight against terrorism,” he urged.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria’s northwestern Afrin region.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

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, the military said.

The military also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to not harm any civilians.

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