By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) - Describing the areas in Syria held by YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terrorists, as being peaceful is laughable, Turkey's ambassador to Canada said Thursday.
Ambassador Selcuk Unal's remarks came after Canadian parliament member Tom Kmiec wrote a letter to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland urging her to make a clear statement in support of YPG/PKK terrorists and to call on Turkey to suspend all military operations in Afrin.
"In 2017 alone, 316 Turkish civilians were killed by 700 rocket/mortar attacks carried out from Afrin. In the last three weeks, more than 70 missiles and 10 mortars were fired directly towards civilians in Turkey, which led to seven civilian deaths and left 125 wounded," Unal said in a written response to Kmiec's claims.
Reminding Kmiec that hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees who flee Syria are hosted by Turkey, Unal said one must find it hard to explain why there is mass migration to Turkey if YPG/PKK-held areas are safe.
"You may also wish to focus on what happened to the 12 Syrian Kurdish political groups in the area, which according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been subjected to ethnic-cleansing style displacements by the YPG," he added.
The YPG is the armed Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state. The PKK has fought a 33-year war against Turkey that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
Turkey's military operation in Afrin does not target Kurds as claimed by several countries, the ambassador said, adding it is only against the YPG/PKK and Daesh.
"Generalizing all Kurdish descent people scattered in numerous countries simply as “Kurds” is not only simplistic but also a poor analysis of the region," he said.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
The operation against the PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups is being conducted within the framework of Turkey’s sovereign rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions and self-defense rights under the UN Charter.
Turning to the relationship between YPG and the PKK, Unal also noted that the link between the two terror groups is academically well proven by esteemed organizations and publications such as the Henry Jackson Society, the Institute for the Study of War, NATO’s Defense Against Terrorism Review, EUROPOL and the CIA World Factbook.
A “Worldwide Threat Assessment Report” submitted to the U.S. Congress just yesterday (Feb. 13) by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence says that YPG is the Syrian militia of the PKK," he added.
In response to Kmiec's other claim that Turkey cooperates with what he described as “Islamic Syrian militias”, Unal slammed Kmiec, saying that Turkey is conducting the operation with the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The FSA is a Syrian opposition group founded during the Syrian Civil War on July 29, 2011 with the goal of bringing down the government of Bashar al-Assad. It was also supported by the U.S.-led coalition up until the coalition found a "more reliable" partner, the PYD/PKK terror group.
Unal said Turkey, being a member of the International Coalition against Daesh from its inception in 2011, banned more than 56,000 foreigners from entering Turkey, deported 6,000 foreigners and jailed 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters.
"In last year’s operation, Turkey liberated more than 2,000 square kilometers and 250 towns, eliminating more than 3,000 Daesh terrorists," he added.