By Mustafa Bikec
BURSA, Turkey (AA) – The leader of Turkey's Free Cause Party (Huda-Par) on Monday called the PKK/YPG terrorists in Syria's northern Afrin region the soldiers and land force of the United States.
"Indeed, Turkey does not fight against the PKK and YPG there [Afrin]. Because they are a land force of the U.S., the soldiers of the U.S.," Zekeriya Yapicioglu said during his party's provincial congress in the northwestern province of Bursa.
Referring to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch launched on Jan. 20 to prevent a "terror corridor" from forming along its border, Yapicioglu said the U.S. is to blame for the operation and the recent situation in Afrin.
"We wish there was no need for the Afrin operation. We wish the situation had not come to this point. Why did the Afrin operation start? [Because] so-called friend and ally the United States said, 'I will build a 30,000-strong border force'," Yapicioglu said.
Yapicioglu said the border force decision caused tension between Washington and Ankara.
"What kind of friendship and alliance is that? [...] They [PYD/PKK/YPG terrorists] are soldiers of the U.S.
"Yes, the U.S. trained them, gave them weapons and directions, showed a target, said 'Go and hit [it]', and they obeyed and shot," he said.
Yapicioglu said the problems in the region would continue as long as Washington supported the terrorists.
"The problem is the support of the U.S. to them [terrorists]. The problem is America itself," he added.
The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, killing nearly 40,000 people.
Afrin -- a region bordering Turkey's southern Hatay and Kilis provinces – has been controlled by the PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD/YPG terrorist organization since 2012, when Syrian regime forces withdrew from the area.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said that "utmost care" is being used to avoid harming civilians.