SDF statement says Turkey falsely claimed Islamic State is in Afrin
AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday asserted the Turkish army had falsely claimed that Islamic State (IS) militants were present in the Afrin region of northwestern Syria.
Redur Xelil, a senior SDF official, of which the People's Protection Unit (YPG) is a leading component, told Reuters Turkey was “trying to mislead global public opinion.”
“The whole world knows Daesh (Islamic State) is not present in Afrin,” he said.
Xelil’s comments came as a response to a Turkish military statement on Tuesday that said at least 260 Syrian Kurdish YPG and IS militants had been killed during its Afrin operation.
Xelil also alleged the Turkish military was greatly exaggerating the number of SDF and YPG casualties, and that the SDF had killed tens of Turkish forces and allied Free Syrian Army fighters.
At the same time, the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday deleted two tweets that referred to Turkish airstrikes on IS fighters in Afrin, Syria.
“Turkey's prime minister said the strikes targeted IS along with Kurdish forces, but IS is not known to have a presence in the city,” AP posted on Twitter.
AP has deleted two tweets that referred to Turkish airstrikes on Islamic State forces in Afrin, Syria. Turkey's prime minister said the strikes targeted IS along with Kurdish forces, but IS is not known to have a presence in the city. A new tweet is coming.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 20, 2018
Afrin has been the target of a Turkish offensive which began late last week.
Syrian Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on the United States to swiftly enforce a no-fly zone to put an end to any further Turkish airstrikes.
“Washington must act soon. Time is running out,” Hevi Mustafa, co-president of the Executive Council of Afrin, pleaded in a Monday opinion piece published in the Washington Post.
“Ironically, the fact that [IS] never took control of our region has limited the American presence here, and we are now paying the price. Unlike some other regions in northern Syria, we do not have US military bases or even military observers,” she said.
Editing by Nadia Riva