The U.S. move to impose sanctions on Turkey over its anti-terror operation in northern Syria is not in line with the spirit of the NATO alliance, the National Defense Ministry said Thursday.
"Operation Peace Spring continues successfully as planned. In the operation, the protection of our country, borders and people is essential. Even the discourses of sanctions against our country are incompatible with the spirit of the 70-year NATO alliance," the ministry said in a statement.
The U.S. announced sanctions Monday on two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials over Turkey's operation in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh.
The Turkish statement stressed that Ankara seeks to secure voluntary and safe return of Syrian refugees to their homes in Syria.
"Moving the YPG/PKK terror group out of the safe zone is indispensable in this regard. Our fight against Daesh will continue undeterred," the ministry said.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.
The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.