Turkish invasion of northern Syria lacked international legitimacy, Germany says: report

Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Maria Flachsbarth said on Monday that Turkey’s offensive into northeast Syria last year lacked legitimacy under international law, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

Flachsbarth’s comments were made in response to a question by Helin Evrim Sommer, a member of the German Bundestag.

Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” across its border in northeast Syria on October 9, 2019 to secure control of a large swathe of territory in the region. According to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ultimate goal of the operation was “to ensure the security of [Turkish] borders, to neutralize terrorists in the region and to save the Syrian people from the oppression of terrorists.” Turkish authorities said the operation was conducted “on the basis of international law, in accordance with [the] right of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and resolutions of the UN Security Council on [the] fight against terrorism.”

In her response to Sommer’s question, Flachsbarth said, “The federal government has announced that it cannot identify any reasons that would legitimize the operation under international law.”

Speaking about Flachsbarth’s comments, Sommer said: “The fact that the federal government has, for the first time, officially announced that it does not recognize any reasons which legitimize Turkey’s attacks against the democratic self-administration in North-East Syria under international law is to be welcomed. … This is a diplomatically packaged but resounding slap in the face for the regime of [President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

The Turkish government claims that Kurdish militants in Syria – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) — are linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Neither the US nor the EU recognizes the YPG as a terrorist organization.

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