German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has described Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurds as an “invasion” and said Berlin saw it as illegitimate under international law, Deutsche Welle reported.
Maas said on Sunday that Germany rejects Turkey’s justification for a military push into Kurdish-dominated regions of northeast Syria.
“After everything we know and after everything that Turkey itself has cited as a legal basis, we cannot share that view,” Maas said in remarks broadcast by German public broadcaster ZDF.
“We do not believe that an attack on Kurdish units or Kurdish militias is legitimate under international law,” the foreign minister added.
His comments were echoed by other top officials, including Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
At a conservative party congress she said Turkey was violating the “basis of the post-World War II order,” whereby conflicts should be resolved by diplomacy instead of force.
Turkey launched its long-planned Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 aimed at taking out the Kurdish forces it sees as terrorists but which most of the West views as key partners in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. The Turkish military operation began days after a surprise and widely criticized White House announcement that US forces would withdraw from the region.
Yet, Turkey last Thursday agreed to a five-day ceasefire in northeast Syria to allow for withdrawal of Kurdish forces following talks between US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
At least 160,000 people have been displaced and scores killed since the Turkish military launched the offensive. Human rights organizations have warned that war crimes may have been committed, including the targeting of civilians and summary executions.
Maas warned that Germany was keeping an eye on Turkey’s actions following the fragile US brokered truce.
“We have been very clear that we are keeping other measures open — and they might also include economic sanctions.”
According to a survey conducted by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, 91 percent of Germans are against arms exports to Turkey and 65 percent support punitive economic measures against the country due to its offensive in Syria.