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EP members call for sanctions against Turkey over military operation in Syria

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Members of the European Parliament have strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Turkey to withdraw all its forces from Syrian territory.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday by a show of hands, the MEPs warn that Turkey’s intervention in northeast Syria is a serious violation of international law, undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole.

Since Turkey launched its military incursion, along with a large number of civilian and military casualties, at least 300,000 people have been displaced, the MEPs underlined, quoting UN sources. The MEPs advocate that a UN-led security zone should be established in northern Syria.

They firmly reject Turkish plans to establish a so-called safe zone along the border in northeast Syria and expressed concern that the US-Turkish agreement on a temporary ceasefire might legitimize the Turkish occupation of this “safe zone.”

The European Parliament expressed its solidarity with the Kurdish people, emphasizing the important contribution of Kurdish-led forces, particularly that of women, in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The MEPs are extremely concerned over reports that hundreds of ISIL prisoners are escaping from camps in northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive, which increases the risk of a resurgence of the terrorist group.

MEPs said they find it unacceptable that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has weaponized refugees and “used them to blackmail the EU.”

They called on the European Council to introduce a set of targeted sanctions and visa bans on Turkish officials responsible for human rights abuses as well as to consider adopting targeted economic measures against Turkey. The MEPs also proposed that suspending trade preferences in an agricultural products agreement should be considered and as a last resort, the suspension of the EU-Turkey customs union.

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