Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has slammed the French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that he has a "flawed understanding" of Ankara's anti-terrorist campaign dubbed the 'Olive Branch.'
According to the prime minister, "the whole world knows and should know that Turkey does not operate with the mentality of an invader."
The statement came in response to Macron's remark, "If it turns out that this operation takes a turn other than to fight a potential terrorist threat to the Turkish border and becomes an invasion operation, [then] this becomes a real problem for us."
"I immediately called for precaution and restraint and voiced this concern during the early hours [of this offensive]," Macron told Le Figaro.
According to Macron, the Turkish operation "implies having discussions and decisions both between Europeans, but more widely between allies, because it changes the nature of this Turkish incursion and that is why I will speak in the coming days again with Erdogan."
Previously, the French president expressed Paris' concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria in the wake of Ankara's offensive, however, recognized Turkey's "security needs."
Since January 20, Turkey has been conducting a military operation in Syria's Afrin, an area is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces-affiliated and US-backed YPG militias, which Ankara considers to be linked with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed conflict in Turkey seeking autonomy and equal rights for the Kurds in the country.
Damascus has, however, firmly condemned the operation as an assault on Syria's sovereignty. Moscow, in turn, has urged all the parties to exercise restraint and called for respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
The Turkish military campaign in Afrin and nearby regions was launched after the US had announced its plans to train a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria mostly from YPG fighters, which are considered as terrorists by Ankara. Washington's move was harshly criticized by Turkey, with President Erdogan threatening to "strangle" the forming "terrorist army." Within a week after the announcement, Ankara launched an offensive in Syria's Kurdish enclave of Afrin code-named Olive Branch and aimed at eliminating terrorists in the region.