US provoked Turkey to launch Afrin op: Russian aide

The U.S. administration provoked Turkey to launch its current counterterrorist operation in Afrin, Syria by giving Kurds in the region advanced weapons and encouraging separatism, an official from Russia's Security Council said Thursday.

The U.S. set up around 20 military bases in majority-Kurdish regions of northern Syria and continues to supply locals with state-of-the-art American weapons, said Alexander Venediktov, an aide to Russian Security Council Security Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

"Deliveries of modern American weapons and U.S. encouragement of separatist sentiments in the Kurdish world practically provoked Turkey to launch the military operation in northern Syria near Afrin," he said.

Turkey has long complained of the U.S. supplying arms to the PYD/PKK, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, a group whose 30-year terrorist campaign against Turkey has taken some 40,000 lives.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch 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 protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.

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.

Both the military and Turkish authorities have repeatedly said that the operation targets only terrorist elements and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.

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

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