We haven’t displaced anyone in northern Syria: Turkish ambassador

Click to play video: 'Reports of thousands of Syrians in the north displaced by Turkish actions is inaccurate: Unal' Reports of thousands of Syrians in the north displaced by Turkish actions is inaccurate: Unal
WATCH ABOVE: Turkey’s Ambassador to Canada Selçuk Ünal tells Vassy Kapelos his government stories of civilian displace by his country’s military offensive campaign two weeks ago is false and this campaign is aimed at terrorists on the northern Syrian border who have been armed by some NATO allies, notably the U.S – Feb 4, 2018

Turkey’s ambassador to Canada is denying that his government is responsible for the displacement or deaths of civilians in northern Syria, calling claims to the contrary “propaganda.”

In an interview with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos, Selçuk Ünal defended Turkey’s recent launch of a military offensive in the region just south of its border with Syria.

He argued that the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG fighters, who had been battling the so-called Islamic State alongside international partners like Canada and the U.S., are themselves terrorists that must be driven out.

“According to us, they are the sister organization to the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which is a terror organization … So we have been telling, and calling to, all the international community that this group should not be around, at our borders.”

READ MORE: Turkey launches strike against U.S.-backed Kurdish force in Syria

Turkey is not necessarily opposing Kurdish autonomy or ethnicity, the ambassador added.

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“We don’t have any problem with the Kurdish people, or Kurdish descent,” Ünal said.

“We have Kurdish-descent citizens in our country. We have had good relations with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government. We also have good relations with the other 11 Syrian-Kurdish political parties operating in Syria.”

WATCH: Turkish ambassador to Canada is demanding its NATO allies stop arming the Kurds. David Akin reports.

Click to play video: 'Turkish ambassador to Canada defends military action in Syria' Turkish ambassador to Canada defends military action in Syria
Turkish ambassador to Canada defends military action in Syria – Feb 4, 2018

A recent statement from Canada urged Turkey to exercise restraint and to respect international law during its operations in Syria. The ambassador said those military actions are being done in the name of national security and within United Nations-backed frameworks.

“The reason why it’s going slowly is our utmost care for the possible civilian casualties,” he said.

READ MORE: Canada halts military aid to Iraqi and Kurdish forces amid clashes

But news reports suggest a very different reality, with some putting the number of displaced civilians at 16,000. Families have reportedly been driven into nearby caves as Turkish airstrikes continue. Ünal called that a “propaganda campaign.”

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“We are calling everybody, civilians around, to vacate the areas … But this is not something that we are really causing by entering. Actually, we have so far liberated 12 or 15 villages from this (Kurdish) organization or (the Islamic State) and we are continuing humanitarian assistance in those areas to those civilians.”

So how far is Turkey prepared to go?

“We will continue the operation until the whole terror threat, be it PKK or Daesh, will be eliminated in that area.”

– Watch the full interview with Turkey’s ambassador to Canada, Selçuk Ünal, above.

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