PACE members urge Turkish government to halt operations against Syria’s Afrin

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) members held a discussion on Wednesday over Turkish military operations on Afrin province of northern Syria and called upon Turkish government to halt all military actions in the region immediately. PACE members also urged United Nations Security Council to intervene with the Turkish military operation in Afrin before the conflict escalates humanitarian disaster in the region.

Chairman of European United Left, Tiny Kox has criticised the Turkish government under the strict rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the recent military intervention on Afrin and underlined that he is concerned about the humanitarian situation in the city. Kox said that with the Turkish military operation, the conflict in Syria entered a complicated phase and an international intervention by European Union, UN Security Council is necessary.

“Ankara directly attacked Kurdish democratic administration. Afrin is one of the most secure cities in Syria. It’s a safe haven for refugees” Kox said. Kox has also called for an immediate halt to the military operation and insisted that all problems should be solved by peaceful means.

Speaking on behalf of PACE’s Christian Democrats Group, Lonut Stroe has also criticised Turkish government’s use of military force in Afrin and remarked that problems should not be solved through use of power.

In her speech the European Socialist’s Marianne Mikko has voiced criticism over Turkish military action on Afrin and pointed out that there is no legal ground for such a military operation and shared her concerns over recent arrests of peace activists in Turkey.

Liberal Democrat’s Edmon Marukyan, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Socialist Group’s Petra Sutter have all called for international action to stop Turkish military action of Afrin.

Irish PACE member Sean Crowe has also said that Turkey is targeting the local population of Afrin and called upon the assembly to condemn Turkish aggression.

Anrej Hunko from the European Left raised the question of legality of the military operation and added “I am telling to the Turkish envoy and their supporters that you did not enter Afrin with an invitation from Syria or the UN. Sorry but you don’t have the right for such an attack. This attack is a violation of international law.”

POLITICAL GROUPS IN EP CONDEMN MILITARY OPERATION IN AFRIN

The members of four political groups in the European Parliament held a joint press conference in the European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday about the Turkish military operation in Afrin. Pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF)has reported that the representatives of the parties including the United Left, Greens and Conservatives attended the press conference, after which pro-Kurdish HDP’s Europe representative Eyüp Doru and David Vergili of the European Syriac Society held a briefing about the situation in Afrin.

The Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) President Gabi Zimmer stated that the Turkish government wants to destroy the areas held by the Kurds, recalling that various peoples, faith and ethnic groups live in peace in Afrin. Zimmer criticised High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini for raising a weak voice on the issue.

Zimmer said that “Failure to speak out on the people’s security of life deserves criticism. The council and commission are not taking on responsibility. They are providing arms. For instance, we ask the German government if they will stop the arms sale to Turkey and they respond ‘We are not sure if the weapons we gave them are being used.’ This is unacceptable. All groups in the EP should raise one voice and adopt a stand. Strasbourg will soon house a session about the violation of human rights in Turkey. In my point of view, the operation against Afrin could be included. The EP should have a joint resolution motion and we should approve it.”

Greens member Rebacca Harms has also said that she was shocked by what is happening in Afrin, remarking that Turkey’s Afrin operation revives a war instead of creating a solution in Syria. She said that “There is a terrific attack on a city that is the symbol of multi-culturalism, peace and positive living. Turkey is spreading its polarization to neighboring countries. Turkey’s attack goes against international law and Turkey must be sentenced because of these attacks.”

Pointing out that international community and NATO should take a stand against Turkey’s attacks, Harms also pointed out fascistic practices in Turkey and noted that all those who oppose these practices are detained and then jailed.

EP Conservatives and Reformists Group member Branislav Škripek called attention to the situation of Christians in Afrin and recalled that Turkey launches attacks by arguing that “we will end terror”, saying that Turkey carried terror into Afrin.

Also on Wednesday, a demonstration was staged in front of the UN Headquarters in Geneva in protest at the Turkish military intervention into Afrin and the silence of the United Nations on the military operation. According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) Swiss political parties and leftist-socialist circles also supported the demonstration which was joined by hundreds of people calling on the United Nations to act against Turkey’s attacks on Afrin Canton of Northern Syria. Demonstrators carried images from the massacre of civilians in the operation.

Representatives of several Kurdish parties and factions in Turkey have also called on the international community namely the UN, EU, and NATO to take the initiative to stop an ongoing Turkish army attack on the Afrin. Leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – North (KDP-Bakur), Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK), Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), Freedom and Socialism Party (OSP), and Freedom Movement (Azadi) accused Turkey of viewing all Kurds across the Middle East as a security threat.

“We already receive painful news that there are serious losses of civilian lives and wounding of hundreds,” the parties said, calling on the Turkish government to halt its assault on Afrin in no time to prevent domestic instability and civil unrest. They also denied that the self-declared Kurdish-led autonomous region in northern Syria posed a threat to Turkey, calling on Ankara to resolve its conflict with the Kurds peacefully in political terms.

FSA: WE WILL FIGHT AGAINST US IN MANBIJ IF NECESSARY

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stated on Thursday that more than 300 “terrorists” killed in Operation Olive Branch in Afrin. Turkish fighter jets have also shelled western villages of Syria’s Manbij town on Wednesday night as Turkish military operation against Afrin continues.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) deputy chief of general staff said on Wednesday that his group was willing to fight US forces if necessary to secure the area of Manbij in Syria, he told pro-Erdoğan newspaper Yeni Şafak. “We regard Manbij as strategically important as Afrin, so as Syria’s National Army we have declared war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) formations in Manbij,” Haitham Afeisi said.

“Rather than the PKK, the US is the more pressing problem. In the case that the Turkish Armed Forces and the FSA were to enter Manbij, the US, as it did in Afrin, will withdraw its support from the terrorists. If it does not, we will battle US forces deployed in that region as well.”

The FSA would not stop until it had wiped out all the territory held by the PKK’s sister-party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Afeisi said. “The US and Western countries have chosen a handful of PKK terrorists over the Syrian people,” he claimed. “Practically creating the PKK from scratch, they planted it in the region. In this regard, Operation Olive Branch launched in Afrin is a meaningful response to their treason attempt.”

The FSA were ready to battle for the province, Afeisi said. “We have no deficiencies in terms of weapons, ammunition or fighters, and we are morally ready as well,” he said. “A 10,000-strong force is ready for Manbij.”

Turkey on Saturday launched military campaign named “Operation Olive Branch” to remove the PKK-affliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the ongoing operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region.

The military also said the “utmost importance” is being put on not harming civilians. Afrin has been under the control of the YPG since July 2012 when the regime of Bashar al-Assad left the city to the group without putting up a fight.

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!