In the shadow of the recent Turkish military offensive, the German Interior Minister is visiting the country. In Ankara, she calls for compliance with international law.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also taking increasingly martial tones during the visit of Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). After the start of the new offensive in Syria and Iraq, the German politician called on Turkey to prevent an escalation of violence. Turkey’s response must be proportionate, Faeser said on Tuesday. Erdoğan, on the other hand, did not promise an end to the attacks on the Kurdish militias any time soon.
“As soon as possible, God willing, we will exterminate everyone together with our tanks, soldiers and companions,” said the Turkish president. “From now on there is only one measure for us, one border. And that is the security of our own country.”
Since Sunday, Turkey has launched attacks on Kurdish militia positions in Syria and Iraq, which it blames for a November 13 attack in central Istanbul. Both the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK deny any responsibility for the explosion, which killed six people. Read more here.
The Turkish Defense Ministry spoke on Tuesday evening about attacks from the air and with cannons on land. According to the Turkish army, 184 “terrorists” were “neutralized”. The Turkish government and armed forces also often use the term for Kurdish groups that have recently been attacked in both neighboring countries. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. The PKK is also considered a terrorist organization in Germany, while the YPG is not.
Faeser’s counterpart is considered a hardliner
In his meeting with Interior Minister Faeser, Turkish Interior Minister Soylu defended Turkey’s actions in Syria and Iraq and said there were attempts to establish a terrorist state there. Ankara cannot allow that. Faeser said they support Turkey in the fight against terrorism, but civilians must be protected and international law must be respected.
Soylu is considered a nationalist hardliner in Erdoğan’s cabinet. During the meeting of the two interior ministers, topics such as the fight against organized crime and migration were also discussed, the ministry said.
The federal government had already called on Ankara on Monday to comply with international law. Turkey justifies its offensive with the right of self-defense. “The right of self-defense does not imply the right of retaliation,” said Christofer Burger, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The US and Russia urge restraint
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports renewed attacks on targets in Syria. Two Kurdish fighters were killed and three others seriously injured in a drone strike on a military base on Tuesday. The base is jointly used by the US-led international coalition and Kurdish fighters. A spokesman for the US Army Central Command (Centcom) said on Tuesday that US soldiers stationed in the region were “not in danger”. “The next airstrikes were at least 20 to 30 kilometers away,” said the spokesman.
Moscow and Washington have called on Ankara to show restraint after Turkish President Erdoğan also announced the possibility of a ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled areas. Read more here.