EU Minister Çelik slams French FM's double standards over Turkish anti-terror op in Syria

EU Minister Çelik

European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik criticized late Wednesday French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian over his remarks about Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch launched against PKK / PYD / Daesh terrorists.

"French Foreign Minister Le Brian has made the worst possible statement about Operation Olive Branch. He says 'It is legitimate for Turkey to protect itself. But this should not mean killing civilians.' Without a doubt, this statement is a clear example of double standards," Çelik said.

"Those who fail to mention our civilians killed by PKK terror distort the facts and ignore the massacres carried out by terrorists," he added.

"We would like to hear what the ones criticizing Turkey think about the countries supplying arms to terrorist groups. Everyone should pay attention to who they side with."

"Turkey will continue its war against terror with resolve. It would be the best for our ally and friend, France, to support Turkey's fight against terror," Çelik concluded.

Turkey, with the support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 with the stated aim of clearing the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) as well asDaesh terrorists from Syria's northwestern city of Afrin.

Since the operation began, the YPG has carried out several cross-border attacks on Turkey, firing rockets into residential neighborhoods.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the ongoing operation aims to secure northern Syria's border region with Turkey and protect the civilian population from YPG terrorists.

The operation is being carried out in line with international law; past U.N. Security Council resolutions; the right to self-defense as enshrined in the U.N. charter; and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.

The Turkish military has stressed that only terrorist sites and positions are being targeted while the "utmost importance" has been attached to avoiding civilian casualties.

Afrin has been a stronghold for the YPG since mid-2012 when Assad regime forces withdrew from the area allowing the terrorist group to fill the vacuum.

The YPG and PYD are the Syrian affiliates of the PKK, a designated terror group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

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