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EU foreign ministers advise: Turkey offensive: Syria sends troops


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Damascus / Luxembourg (AP) - A few days after the beginning of the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria, the situation in the border region is further threatened. The government in Damascus now sends its own troops into the region.

The Syrian army would oppose the "Turkish aggression on Syrian soil in the north," the Sana state agency said on Sunday, without giving any details. The EU Foreign Ministers want to discuss in Luxembourg on Monday about possible sanctions for the invasion of Turkish troops.

Turkey had begun the long-planned Operation Peace Spring on Wednesday with attacks on Syrian locations along the common border. Ankara considers the local Kurdish militia as an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK and thus as a terrorist organization.

Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen reported an agreement between the government in Damascus and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). These are led by Kurdish militia YPG, against whom Ankara launched the offensive. As part of the agreement, Syrian government troops would be transferred to the Turkish border from Monday morning. SDF checkpoints would be opened to give the army access to the region, Al-Mayadeen said, citing Kurdish sources.

Eight years after the beginning of the civil war, the allied government of President Bashar al-Assad dominates large areas in the center as well as in the west and south of the country. In April, the government had also begun an offensive against the last major rebel stronghold Idlib in the northwest.

In Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers will discuss possible reactions to the Turkish military operation on Monday. In the run-up to the talks, Sweden has openly argued for an EU-wide arms embargo on Turkey and, in the event of a worsening situation, also proposes economic sanctions or sanctions against individuals. The French government has also raised the issue of sanctions. After a special meeting of the French Defense and Security Council late on Sunday evening, the Elysee Palace announced that France would intensify its efforts to bring about an "immediate end" to the Turkish offensive.

It is, however, unlikely that there will be an EU decision quickly towards sanctions. Diplomats in Brussels point out that Turkey is still a NATO party and is needed as a partner in coping with the refugee crisis. Moreover, there is the big hurdle that EU sanctions should be decided unanimously. It is therefore likely that the EU states will have to decide for themselves whether to impose an arms export ban or other punitive measures.

Countries like the Netherlands have already unilaterally announced a supply stop for defense equipment. Germany has partially stopped its arms exports to the NATO partner in response to the invasion. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) was confident about the meeting in Luxembourg. He was "pretty sure that there will be a closed language" in the EU on Monday, said Maas in the ARD. SPD parliamentary leader Rolf Mützenich spoke in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (Monday) of a "first, important step". However, what is desirable is a "common European understanding" of further measures.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had already called in a telephone call on Sunday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for immediate stop the military offensive. This was also the subject of a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday evening in Paris. Both warned against a resurgence of the terrorist militia Islamic State by the actions of Turkey in northern Syria. On Sunday, the Kurdish Authority and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that around 780 members of IS extremists had escaped from a camp.

Meanwhile, the US government wanted to begin with the withdrawal of about 1,000 soldiers from northern Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told US television on Sunday that there was a risk that the US would come between two advancing armies. He did not name a timetable. It also remained unclear where the US soldiers should retire.

Greens leader Annalena Baerbock called for a special session of the NATO Council on Turkey's military offensive. "A war crime is no less a war crime, a breach of international law no less a breach of international law, just because the aggressor is a NATO member," Baerbock told dpa. Green parliamentary leader Anton Hofreiter demanded in an interview with the editorial network Germany (RND / Monday), there should be no new Hermes guarantees for Turkey. Baerbock and Hofreiter also demanded that already approved arms exports be stopped. The rejected Union parliamentary group vice-president Johann Wadephul in the RND with the statement that would "violate the legitimate expectations of local suppliers and possibly suspend us claims for damages."

At the weekend, thousands of people in Germany had protested against the Turkish action. In Cologne alone, it was estimated that over 10,000 people. The Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ali Kemal Aydin, defended his country's actions on Sunday evening on the ZDF program «Berlin direkt».

Information about the EU Foreign Ministers meeting

Source: zeit

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