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Turkey raps France criticism of shelling attacks on Syria villages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu ©AFP

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has expressed discontent with France’s call on Ankara to stop its shelling attacks on Kurdish areas in northern Syria.

During a telephone conversation on Monday, Cavusoglu relayed his dissatisfaction with the French Foreign Ministry’s stance against Turkish attacks to his counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, diplomatic sources said.

Over the past few days, Turkey has been shelling the positions of fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the northern parts of Syria.

Ankara regards the YPG and YPD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

The YPG, which controls nearly Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been fighting against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Russia has called upon the UN Security Council to convene a meeting on Turkey’s heavy shelling of the positions of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Aleppo.

“The Russian delegation is deeply concerned by the use of force by Turkey against the Syrian territory,” Reuters quoted an unnamed Russian diplomat as saying.

On Monday, Moscow condemned Ankara’s shelling attacks in the city of A'zaz, situated roughly 30 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of Aleppo, as a “provocative” action.

“Starting from February 13, Turkish artillery concentrated in border areas is carrying out massive strikes on Syrian towns recently freed from terrorists by regime forces and Kurdish militia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement further said the Turkish shelling has killed many civilians and inflicted heavy damage on residential areas of the northern Syrian areas.

Tanks of the Turkish army, positioned near the border with Syria, shoot in the direction of the conflict-ridden Arab country on February 15, 2016. ©AFP

“Moscow expresses its most serious concern about aggressive actions by Turkish authorities against a neighboring state. We see it as overt support of international terrorism,” the statement said.

In letters to the United Nations on Monday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Ankara’s assaults as a blatant violation of the country’s sovereignty, saying such raids are aimed at supporting the “armed terrorist organizations” such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.

The ministry said the Turkish shelling is a response to Syrian army’s Russian-backed gains against terror groups, particularly in Aleppo Province.

The UN Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities and end Turkey’s numerous crimes against the Syrian nation, the statement added.

In another development on Monday, a hospital and a school were hit by missiles in the Syrian town of A'zaz, one of the zones under heavy shelling by the Turkish military since Saturday.

Besides the attack on the A'zaz hospital, four other medical facilities, one of them supported by France-based Doctors Without Borders, came under similar attacks in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. The UN says 50 civilians lost their lives in the raids.

Paris strongly condemned the air raid on the MSF-run facility in Idlib, which claimed seven lives and left eight others missing.

Turkey has been among the major supporters of the Takfiri terror groups fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

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