When asked by reporters on Tuesday if Turkey is “violating the UN cease-fire” in Syria, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that she would “encourage Turkey to go back and read the UN resolution.”
But Turkey blasted this response, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy saying it shows Nauert “couldn’t understand the focal point of the resolution or wants to distort it.”
“Turkey is not one of the parties to the conflict in Syria,” said Aksoy. “In Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Turkey is exercising its right to self-defense based on Article 51 of the UN Charter."
“All concerned parties should realize the goals and objectives of the resolution without distorting it,” he added, urging against double standards and distortions.
“Turkey will continue to do its part to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people as it has until now,” he said.
The UN Security Council on Saturday passed a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria "without delay."
Turkey has stressed that the cease-fire is meant to give relief to civilian areas hit hard by Assad regime airstrikes, and has nothing to do with Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in Afrin, northwestern Syria.
On Tuesday Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said that the cease-fire resolution does not apply to Turkey's operation, which is meant to “clear out bloody terrorist groups to rescue the civilians living there."
Turkey launched the operation on Jan. 20 to clear the YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin, just across Turkey’s border, to protect the border and protect civilians on both sides.
In contrast with Assad regime attacks targeting civilians, Turkey’s operation has taken great care to avoid any harm to civilians.
The UN cease-fire resolution in particular is meant to provide humanitarian and medical relief to the battered Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the target of a five-year Assad regime siege and continued attacks killing hundreds of people, despite the resolution passed on Saturday.