Turkey is not occupying Afrin, MHP head says

Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader said on Tuesday that France should look back at its history for examples of "invasion".

Speaking to his party's lawmakers in the parliament, Devlet Bahçeli slammed recent remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron over Operation Olive Branch.

"If France is looking for examples of invasion and occupation, it should do some self-criticism and look back at its own history," said Bahçeli .

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro published on Jan. 31, Macron warned that if Turkey's ongoing operation in northern Syria turns into an "invasion" it would be a "real problem" for France.

Bahçeli reiterated that Turkey was not an occupying state in the Afrin region of Syria.

"Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Syria," he added.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch late last month to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

Only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being put on avoiding harming civilians.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.