United States authorities still cannot understand the purpose and nature of Turkey's operation in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Monday.
"Operation Olive Branch is an operation against terror. The operation certainly does not target the civilian population, but rather aims to save the civilian population from the oppression of a terrorist organization," a statement released on the ministry's website read.
The statement came after U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. was "deeply concerned" about the humanitarian situation in Afrin.
The ministry said that Turkey has taken all necessary measures to ensure that civilians are protected and humanitarian assistance is provided to the civilian population.
Responding to the U.S.' criticism that the operation may hinder the fight against Daesh, the ministry said using the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist group against Daesh and allowing the group push forward its separatist agenda is what actually undermines the combat against terrorism.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ early Tuesday tweeted a message similar to the foreign ministry statement. Bozdağ said "The latest announcements from the U.S. show that they still do not or do not want to comprehend the reasons, aims and the essence of Operation Olive Branch."
Bozdağ said it should be known that the operation is not targeted against civilians or the Kurdish people, but directly aims to liberate the region and its people from terror groups.
The Deputy Prime Minister also denied U.S. allegations that the operation is weakening the fight against Daesh terrorists. Bozdağ said that Turkey has inflicted the heaviest blow to Daesh, and added that arming PYD/YPG terrorists under the guise of fighting Daesh has weakened the fight against terror.
The U.S.' partnership with the YPG has been a significant disagreement between Washington and Ankara, as Turkey argues that a terror group cannot be used to defeat another one. In addition, the weaponry given to the YPG, which Ankara says is directly linked to the PKK terrorist group, can be transferred to PKK terrorists, and ultimately used against its citizens.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. Still, the U.S. continues to supply truckloads of weapons to the YPG in Syria, beginning with former President Barack Obama's term. After Ankara's repeated concerns, the U.S. administration, under the term of President Donald Trump, said they would collect the weapons given to the YPG. Yet, this promise made to Ankara has not been kept, Turkish officials say.