Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said that Syrian Kurdish militants will use chemical weapons and blame it on Turkey in order to create a public opinion against the Turkish army.
Speaking about Turkey’s recently-launched military offensive in northeastern Syria, Akar also said that the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara deems a terrorist organization, intends to give the impression that ISIS is still active in the area.
“We’ve been receiving information concerning the terrorist organization’s plan to use chemical weapons and place the blame on our Armed Forces to create a perception,” Akar said on Oct. 16 during a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and the accompanying officials.
“It’s a well-known fact that the TSK doesn’t have chemical weapons in its inventory,” he added, using an abbreviation for Turkish Armed Forces.
“Furthermore, there’s information regarding the terrorist organization’s plans to carry out mass attacks against civilians in order to create the perception that ISIS threat is ongoing,” Akar also said.
After the meeting held in National Defense Ministry, Akar told journalists that the recent situation in Syria and security issues were discussed between Turkish and U.S. officials.
The meeting was held amid Turkey’s military incursion in northeastern Syria dubbed Operation Peace Spring.
With its operation, Turkey aims to clear the area from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the YPG is the leading group.
YPG is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara, Washington and the European Union designates as a terrorist organization.
Turkey’s operation was launched after White House announced that the U.S. troops would withdraw from the area – a move that was slammed by both Republicans and Democrats.
A U.S. delegation is in Ankara to urge Turkish officials to stop its offensive, with U.S. officials repeatedly criticizing Turkey’s military move and its ambitions to establish a “safe zone,” in which the country aims to settle Syrian refugees.
Turkey’s incursion has been also criticized over the situation of ISIS captives in the area. With U.S. backing, the SDF became the most effective group in defeating ISIS.
After the meeting, Akar told journalists that he conveyed Turkey’s views and requests to U.S. officials.
The minister was also asked about the allegations surrounding the offensive.
“We’ve been seeing plenty of fake footage and news, ranging from a downed plane to a drill being portrayed as happening in the [operation] area, in the press. They want to overshadow the success and sensitivity put forward by our Armed Forces on the ground with these fake news. I state once again that these will not work,” Akar said.
Saying that the army is careful and sensitive towards the civilians and allied forces in the area, Akar noted that “we put massive emphasis on all religious and ethnic groups’ security.”