By Safvan Allahverdi
ADDS WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT TO AA
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. thinks it is "extremely unlikely" Turkey used chemical weapons in Afrin, the White House told Anadolu Agency on late Saturday.
“We are aware of the reports but we cannot confirm them," the White House official, who wished to remain anonymous said, referring to baseless claims on the usage of chemical weapons by the Turkish military.
"We continue to call for restraint and protection of civilians in Afrin,” official added.
The claims came after the Syrian regime state-run news agency SANA and some other outlets quoted the PYD/PKK terrorists on the ground in Syrian's city Afrin.
The agencies, without checking, reported that six civilians suffered breathing difficulties and other symptoms indicative of poison gas inhalation after an attack launched by Turkey, which was never confirmed.
The videos, released from the hospital, showed people being fitted with oxygen masks, who did not otherwise show symptoms of poison gas inhalation.
Turkey, on Jan. 20, launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
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 cruelty and oppression.
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 has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.