Ankara Accuses Kurd Militants of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Syria

Ankara Accuses Kurd Militants of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Syria
Mon Aug 29, 2016 20:18:54

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused the Syrian Kurdish fighters of engaging in ethnic cleansing in northern Syria.

Cavusoglu told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday that fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) were attempting to put their own people in areas that had been released from Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the northern parts of Syria.

"Those people that were forced to leave these places should be placed back in these regions, they should live there, but that is not the YPG's aim. The YPG is engaged in ethnic cleansing, they are placing who they want to in those places," Cavusoglu said.

Ankara regards the YPG and YPD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

The YPG, which controls nearly Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been fighting against Daesh (ISIS / ISIL).

Cavusoglu said the ethnic composition of the area around the Syrian city of Manbij west of the Euphrates - captured by the YPG from Daesh terrorists earlier this month - was largely Arab.

“Residents who had to leave the region (before fighting broke out) must be the ones who live there. But that is not the goal of the YPG,” the minister said.

Top Turkish diplomat stressed that Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria will continue until YPG withdraws to east of Euphrates. “The YPG (People’s Protection Units) first of all… needs to cross east of the Euphrates as soon as possible. So long as they don’t, they will be a target.”

Fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are seen in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25, 2016. (AFP photo)

But a spokesman for YPG criticized Turkey, saying its claims of fighting the group West of Euphrates are pretexts to widen its occupation of the Syrian territory.

YPG forces also insist that they have already withdrawn to the east of the Euphrates in line with US and Turkish demands.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Turkish diplomat said the aim of a Turkey’s operation around the Syrian town of Jarablus was solely to drive out Daesh terrorists near its border.

“The objective of this operation (Jarabulus) … is to clear this region of the Daesh terrorist organization,” Cavusoglu ntoed, stressing, “As you see, even with a small force, the Daesh terrorist organization is leaving and running away from the regions under their control.”

This picture taken from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 24, 2016 shows smoke billows following air strikes by a Turkish jet fighter on the Syrian Turkish border village of Jarablus. ©AFP

Turkey started its latest military operation in northern Syria last week. At least 40 Syrian civilians have been killed and scores more wounded in Turkish airstrikes and shelling.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has rejected claims that civilians were targeted during the military operation in Syria.

“Allegations that… civilians were shot at or targeted do not reflect the truth,” the office of the prime minister said, adding the army was taking “all necessary measures to prevent any harm to the civilian population.”

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