UK halts arms exports to Turkey while defense secretary justifies Syria op

Published 15.10.2019 13:31
Updated 16.10.2019 00:49
Smoke and dust billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 (AP Photo)
Smoke and dust billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 (AP Photo)

Turkey needs to carry out the operation in northeastern Syria to defend itself in the face of the terrorist threat, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Monday.

Wallace justified Turkey's Operation Peace Spring targeting the PKK terrorist group's Syrian offshoot in a speech at a NATO parliamentary assembly in London.

"Turkey has had, and still does have, a threat emanating toward it from groups such as the PKK, a terrorist organization in this country as well, and Turkey needs to do what it sometimes has to do to defend itself," Wallace said.

"This is a situation we did not want to develop in this way, but it is a situation that has happened and we are trying to make sure that human rights are upheld in that process," he added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday said Britain will halt new arms export licenses to Turkey as a result of concern over its military operation.

"The U.K. government takes its arm export control responsibilities very seriously and in this case, of course, we will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review," Raab told parliament.

"No further export licenses to Turkey for items that might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review."

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.

The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.

Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.

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