UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY KALIN
By Ilkay Guder
ANKARA (AA) - Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Tuesday asserted Turkey’s “sensitivity” towards distinguishing terrorists from civilians during the ongoing operation in Syria’s Afrin.
“Our sensitivity to distinguish terrorist elements from civilians is at an optimum level, as it always has been in each operation we have conducted,” he said, in a statement issued following a security meeting at the presidential complex in capital Ankara.
He reiterated that Turkey’s priority during the operation is to maintain security at its borders and secure the life and property of its citizens.
Kalin said humanitarian aid was being sent to civilians in the affected region.
“Operation Olive Branch is directed only against terrorist groups, not any ethnic group,” he added.
He warned against false propaganda being spread about the operation.
“We call on the public, especially the media, to be cautious against the provocative news, images, and rumors which have false, sham, and distorted contents.”
Underscoring the success of the operation, Kalin said the Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) had destroyed terrorist targets in Afrin.
“Our operation will continue until the separatist terrorist group is completely cleared in the region, and the real owners of Syria --- including the 3.5 million refugees currently being hosted in Turkey -- are able to return safely to their homes."
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the ongoing operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
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 the "utmost importance" is being put on not harming civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.