ANKARA — Turkey on Sunday welcomed the unanimous demand by the UN Security Council for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria but insisted that its own operations against groups deemed by Ankara to be terror organisations would continue.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that Turkey “will remain resolute in fighting against the terrorist organisations that threaten the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria.”
Ankara last month launched a military operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the western enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.
The operation has raised tensions with Washington, which works closely with the YPG in the fight against terrorists in Syria.
But Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which for over three decades has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state and is banned by Turkey, the US and the European Union as a terror group.
A top Turkish official was quoted as saying by the NTV channel that the UN Security Council demand would have no effect on the operation against the YPG in Afrin.
“As the operation that Turkey is waging is an operation against terror, this decision will have no impact on that operation,” said the official, who was not named.
The YPG however said in a statement it was prepared to halt all military operations — except those against Daesh — “while reserving the right to retaliate ... in case of any aggression by the Turkish army.”
It said that the ceasefire demand applied to Afrin and it was ready assist the entry of any humanitarian aid into the region.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s official news agency says Czech authorities have detained a former leader of a Syrian Kurdish political party under an Interpol red notice based on Ankara’s request for his arrest.
Anadolu says Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the PYD, was detained on Saturday in Prague.
Czech police didn’t immediately confirm the report.
Muslim was put on Turkey’s most-wanted list earlier in February.
Turkey considers the PYD a “terrorist group” linked to outlawed Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey’s own borders.
The party is the leading political Kurdish force in northern Syria and Muslim remains highly influential even after stepping down as co-chair last year.
Anadolu says Turkey is submitting an extradition request and that a Czech court will decide whether to extradite Muslim or release him.