German parliamentary report describes Turkey as an invader in Syria

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech on Europe at the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament ahead of a EU summit in Brussels on April 27, 2017 in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday told Britain not to have any "illusions" that it would have the same rights as an EU member after it leaves the bloc. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN

A report drafted by the German Bundestag’s Scientific Services Department suggests that Turkey’s role in Syria qualifies as an occupying force, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Wednesday, citing press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

“When examined closely, Turkey’s military presence in Afrin as well as Azaz, Al Bab and Jarablus in northern Syria fits into the description of military occupation from an international law standpoint,” the report read.

The nine-page report was drafted upon the initiative of the Left Party (Die Linke) parliamentary group.

Sevim Dağdelen, deputy group chairman of the Left Party, claimed that the report should be considered by the German government as a warning, slamming the latter’s aversion to publicly recognizing Turkey’s actions in Syria as a violation of international law.

“It is scandalous to avoid declaring Turkey’s military operations in some regions of Syria as being in contravention of international law despite all the reports put forward by experts as well as the shared stance of all the political parties that have a group in the Bundestag,” Dağdelen said.

While Turkey’s military operation in Afrin in northwestern Syria launched in January 2018 had been condemned by the German government and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas had stated that Turkish troops’ permanent presence in Syria would not be in line with international law, the German government has refrained so far from releasing a clear statement as to how Turkey’s operation in Afrin should be evaluated in terms of international law.

The same parliamentary department had issued another report back in March in which it had concluded that there were suspicions regarding the compliance of Turkey’s military operations with international law since the Turkish government had failed to present concrete evidence of any armed aggression against itself that would constitute grounds for legitimate self-defense.

Turkey had made reference to the right to legitimate self-defense enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter in order to justify its Operation Olive Branch launched in January against Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northwestern Syria.

Reports produced by the Scientific Services Department aim to inform German MPs in fields that require expertise and do not represent the official view of the Bundestag.

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