A Turkish envoy has said that Ankara has always defended the transformation of Syria into a secular and democratic country, as he addressed United Nations Security Council on the country’s recent incursion.
“We have always defended the transformation of Syria into a democratic, secular and stable country with secure borders and a strong economy,” Turkey’s envoy to the U.N. Feridun Sinirlioğlu said on Oct. 24.
“Turkey has never had second thoughts about the future of our southern neighbor,” he also said.
Turkey launched its military offensive in northern Syria on Oct. 9 with rebel groups in order to clear its border from People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants and to create a “safe zone” in order for the return of over one million Syrian refugees.
Turkey perceives the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group that Turkey has been battling for more than 30 years and that is designated as a terrorist group by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
The offensive called Operation Peace Spring drew criticism from the United States and European countries, prompting the Turkish envoy to explain its aims to the U.N.
“I see this meeting as a platform to set the record straight about ‘Operation Peace Spring’ and the ensuing developments, Sinirlioğlu said, adding that the operation was a “limited cross-border counter terrorism operation” against the PKK, YPG and ISIS.
“I flatly reject and strongly condemn any misrepresentation of our counter terrorism operation as an offensive or aggression,” he also said.
Reiterating Ankara’s previous comments regarding Turkey being the only country to engage in chest-to-chest combat against ISIS, Sinirlioğlu noted that “there is a deliberate effort to conceal or forget the realities about PKK/YPG.”
“The PKK, as we must all know by now, is designated as a terrorist group by the EU, NATO and the U.S. However, some member states provided heavy weapons, ammunition and training to PKK/YPG assuming that it is acceptable to use a terrorist organization against another terrorist organization, namely in this case PKK/YPG against DEASH,” the envoy said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Saying that Turkey has always supported a U.N. sponsored, Syrian-led/Syrian-owned political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254, Sinirloğlu noted that Ankara has “agreed on with our American and Russian friends and emphasized together the work ahead in the context of the political process that will be revived in Geneva on Oct. 29.”
“We must all work for the success of this process. On our part, we will do so in full and close cooperation with the U.N. This is why Turkey was among the few countries who made the formation of the Constitutional Committee possible,” he added.
During his speech, the envoy said that the operation was “conducted in full respect of international law and in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
“We took all necessary measures to prevent any harm to civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure,” he added.
Sinirlioğlu also called for an investigation into “any violation of humanitarian law,” adding that “perpetrators should be held accountable.”
“Of course, it is true for every operation conducted by any country, including our American and other friends. And we should keep in mind that it is true for operations not only in Syria but everywhere,” he said.