Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for the Turkish presidency. AP photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesperson, told reporters on Thursday that the Turkish army will stay in Afrin and will not hand the Kurdish canton over to the Syrian government, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for a transition.
“Mr Rouhani brought up this subject in the first section of the meeting, but our position is very clear on the subject: Our objective is to first provide security in Afrin along with local fighters. We have previously pointed this out,” Kalin said.
Such a handover would create a new threat, he claimed. The old threat was the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which withdrew from Afrin city on March 18.
“We do not want to lift a threat and face a new one there,” said Kalin.
During tripartite talks in Ankara this week, Rouhani told his Russian and Turkish counterparts that the Kurdish canton of Afrin, seized by the Turkish military and its Syrian proxies, should be handed over
to the Syrian army.
“The developments in Afrin can only be useful if they do not violate Syria’s territorial integrity, and control of these areas should be handed over to the Syrian army,” Rouhani said, according to Iran’s state television.
Kalin rejected such a handover, insisting the city would be governed by locals.
“Now local forces such as [Free] Syrian Army and Afrin Kurds, tribes and others, especially National Intelligence Agency (MIT) … We will continue remaining in Afrin” until the Turkey-Syria border is secure, he said.
“Afrin will be governed by mostly by Afrin people. There is no problem regarding this,” he added.