Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed NATO over its refusal to aid Ankara in its operations in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin.
"Hey NATO where are you? We’re fighting so much. NATO, Turkey is not a NATO country? Where are you? ," RT quoted Erdogan as saying on Sunday.
Turkey has been waging “Operation Olive Branch” against Syria’s Afrin region since January 20 in a bid to eliminate the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that enjoys US support. The Turkish government views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group. The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Erdogan added that NATO would even go up against “Operation Olive Branch” if it had the courage to.
“In fact, they would openly oppose Turkey in Syria if they could. But seeing Turkey’s adamant position, they did not find [the] resolve to do so, "he added.
Erdogan also stressed that Turkey's only goal in Syria was “fight against terrorism" and that it would withdraw its troops after this goal had been obtained.
"Turkey’s goal is not capture of the territories of the other states, but only elimination of the terrorism threat in the region. Turkey will fight terrorists anywhere they operate,” he added.
According to Syria's official news agency SANA, some 222 civilians, most of whom women and children, have been killed and 700 others injured since Turkey began its shelling and airstrikes.
The military intervention came after the US said it would set up a 30,000-strong militant border force at Turkish doorstep. Ankara is wary of the presence of Kurdish militants close to its borders in Syria, and has been opposed to Washington's efforts to train and arm them in the Arab country.