By Baris Gundogan
ANKARA (AA) – If Turkey did not worry about civilians, Afrin operation would end in 15 to 20 days, according to Deputy Premier Bekir Bozdag on Wednesday.
In remarks made to TGRT television, Bozdag said claims the Turkish Armed Forces targeted civilians were "perception operations aimed at eliminating international support".
"They are all lies," he said. "There are many photographs. Children are seen in the photographs… They [terrorist groups] even used Anadolu Agency's award-winning photograph [to mislead the people that] a child had been shot by the Turkish Armed Forces. We are deciphering all of this now."
About the U.S. proposal to establish a safe zone, he said: "If this safe zone aims to stop Operation Olive Branch from proceeding towards Afrin, then it cannot stop it.
"It is impossible for Turkey to give consent to a safe zone that would allow terrorists and terrorist organizations to maintain their presence safely."
On ties with the U.S., he said Ankara was making an effort to better relations with the U.S.
"The U.S. should make the same effort. Good Turkey-U.S. relations will benefit both countries.
"We do not hide our intention. We say the same thing to U.S. officials and officials of other countries: as long as the PKK, YPG, Daesh remain present here [in Manbij and east of Euphrates], threat to Turkey continues.
"Either help us clear these [terrorist organizations] or we will take our steps through our own means and ability.”
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
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.