ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A UN-passed resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria was the target of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday due to Syrian government forces’ disregard of the truce in their continued attacks on the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus.
“Do recent developments befit humanity? They take a decision, the United Nations Security Council. God curse your resolution. A decision not implemented is meaningless,” Erdogan told a weekly parliamentary convention of his ruling Justice and Development (AKP).
“You are deceiving humanity. We do not say ‘the world is bigger than five’ for nothing,” the Turkish President said, criticizing the UNSC’s permanent members China, Russia, France, Britain, and the United States—countries that hold veto power.
The phrase has become an oft-repeated motto for Erdogan, advertising it in his self-styled anti-imperialist and pan-Islamic rhetoric during many speeches at home and trips abroad in Africa or Asia.
Despite outrage at the Russia-backed Damascus government’s attacks that have killed over 750 people in the rebel-controlled Ghouta, the Erdogan administration itself does not observe the February resolution in its invasion of the enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan.
Turkish airstrikes and shelling have killed over 200 civilians according to medical sources in Afrin under an ongoing attack by the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions.
Undeterred by calls from the UN, Washington, and Paris to the contrary, Ankara alleges that the truce does not apply to Afrin, a region defended by the US-armed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which it says are “terrorists.”
The UNSC does not designate the YPG as such and labels only the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliates such as the Nusra Front or Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as “terrorist” organizations.
“Nobody can dare to say that until now even one civilian has been intentionally hurt during our operations,” Erdogan said, falling short of acknowledging the human cost his army’s “Operation Olive Branch” has inflicted upon the Kurdish region which he had earlier claimed belonged to Arabs.
He and his government officials have denied any civilian casualties, with Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag going so far as to assert that not even a “nosebleed” had been recorded throughout the entirety of the campaign that received a green light from Moscow.
In the FSA-held Ghouta, Erdogan helped the Syrian regime’s primary military sponsor Russia evacuate some civilians.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow that the Turkish leader brokered the evacuation of “quite a big group” of civilians in remarks later confirmed by Erdogan’s office.
A similar evacuation took place in October 2016 in Aleppo, then contested between the Syrian state’s forces and FSA rebels dominated by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
As Syria’s second largest city continued to be under intense Russian air bombardment, Erdogan said Putin had asked him to get al-Nusra out of Aleppo which later entirely fell under the control of the Syrian government.
“Putin had a request. He wanted cooperation on making al-Nusra leave Aleppo. We gave necessary orders to our friends,” he said during a speech at his Ankara palace.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany