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Northern Syria: 70,000 people on the run because of Turkish offensive


The Turkish invasion of northern Syria has led to large escape movements. Turkey demands assistance from NATO, the Pentagon an end to the offensive.

Since the start of the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, more than 70,000 people have been displaced within 48 hours, according to UN agencies. Most of them fled the regions of Ras al-Ain and Tall Abjad, according to the UN World Food Program. There are "disturbing reports" of ground attacks by Turkish troops or groups close to the Turkish military.

Among other things, the water supply, dams, power plants and oil fields were hit by shots, said a spokesman. "The military operations in northeastern Syria are likely to exacerbate the already strained humanitarian situation," warned Najat Rochdi, who is responsible for humanitarian affairs in the UN Syria Commissioner's Office. A similar appeal was published by the aid organization Doctors Without Borders. In a statement, she called on all warring parties to ensure the protection of civilians, health workers and patients. The escalation of violence could only worsen the "trauma" that the Syrian population has suffered in years of war.

The organization reported that the hospital they supported had closed in the Syrian border town of Tall Abyad because most of the employees and their families had left the city. Tall Abjad near the Turkish border town Akcakale is in the focus of the Turkish offensive. "As the only public hospital in the area, the Tall-Abjad Hospital was very important for health care in the city and the surrounding area," the statement said.

Turkey calls for NATO solidarity

In its controversial military offensive in Syria, Turkey demands from NATO a "clear and clear" commitment to solidarity. "Under the principle of indivisibility of security, our most natural and legitimate expectation is for our Allies to solidarize with us, so it is not enough to say 'we understand Turkey's legitimate concerns'," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "We want to see this solidarity clearly."

The offensive, which runs since Wednesday afternoon, is directed against the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls a large area on the Syrian side of the border. Turkey sees in it an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK and thus a terrorist organization. The procedure is criticized internationally.

Çavuşoğlu defended the offensive. He argued that if everyone saw that Turkey's concerns were legitimate, then the fight against the cause of the worries must be legitimate. "You armed and trained this terrorist organization," he accused the US of their support for the Kurdish YPG militia.

US President Donald Trump had recently brought the US into the game as a potential mediator. The US Department of Defense called on Turkey to end the offensive. In a telephone conversation, Defense Minister Mark T. Esper told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that the US rejected the "uncoordinated actions" as they jeopardized progress by the international coalition against the terrorist militia, the Pentagon said.

As of Friday morning, according to Turkish sources, 277 YPG fighters were killed in the military action. Also a first Turkish soldier had died in the battles. The Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported on Thursday of six dead on the Turkish side. In addition, 70 people were injured.

Arrests for criticism of the operation

According to the Interior Minister, 121 people have been detained in Turkey until Friday for criticizing the military offensive on social media. Almost 500 people are being investigated because they call Turkey's actions an invasion, Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said.

The investigation, according to the police on the charge of "terrorist propaganda" out. The Turkish government had taken similar measures in the military offensive against YPG's northwest Syrian city of Afrin. The Turkish anti-terror laws are very broad. Pro-Kurdish MPs and journalists have been sentenced to prison for "terrorist propaganda."

Source: zeit

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