The only aim of Operation Olive Branch is to eliminate terrorists from its area of operations, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Jan. 22.
“The only target of this operation is the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union], PYD/YPG [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party/People’s protection Units], and ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] terror organizations,” Bozdağ said in Ankara.
Operation Olive Branch in Syria is not an operation “against our Kurdish brothers living in the region,” he added.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch with aims to remove YPG from Afrin.
“This is an operation aiming to rescue Arabs and Turkmens, together with our Kurdish brothers living in the region, from the pressure and persecution of ISIL, the PKK, PYD, YPG, and KCK terrorist groups,” Bozdağ said.
Calling the three-day-old operation not a “choice” but an “obligation,” he said it has been going successfully according to plan and it would continue with the same success.
On the first three days of the operation, Turkey has controlled the distance covered by the operation and its area, Bozdağ said, adding that no member of the Turkish Armed Forces involved in the operation has been killed so far.
On allegations that the Turkish Armed Forces has been targeting civilians during the operation, he denounced the claims as “a product of black propaganda.”
‘PYD freed ISIL terrorists’
He claimed that the YPG had freed ISIL militants in Afrin on condition that they fight Turkey.
Bozdağ also dismissed claims that Turkey gave a commitment to Russia concerning the operation, saying that Turkey had given no guarantees to Russia or any other country.
Referring to statements by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he said: “The way to cooperation is clear: Stop arming [terror groups] and take back the weapons given earlier to those groups.”