UK Foreign Secretary Says Licenses for Defence Exports to Turkey Will be Suspended Amid Syria Op
13:39 15.10.2019(updated 17:20 15.10.2019)
The Turkish offensive in northern Syria, which started on 9 October, has been condemned by the international community, with Syria calling it a violation of its territorial integrity.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has condemned Turkey's operation in Syria, saying that "this is not the action that we expected from an ally".
"The UK government takes its arms export control responsibilities very seriously and in this case, of course, we will keep our defence exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review", Raab told Parliament.
He continued by saying that Turkey's actions are "reckless, counterproductive and play straight into Russia's hands", adding that these actions have taken "focus away from overriding counter-terrorism goal of defeating Daesh".
"No further export licences to Turkey for items that might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review", he stated.
The British foreign secretary also noted that now "we need the NATO more than ever" and "we need more than ever to have closer cooperation with the US and other allies over Turkey".
"From the outset, the UK government has warned Turkey against taking this military action and, as we feared, it has seriously undermined the stability and the security of the region. It risks worsening the humanitarian crisis and increasing the suffering of millions of refugees. And it also undermines the international effort that should be focused on defeating Daesh ... This is not the action we expected from an ally. It is reckless, it is counter-productive and it plays straight into the hands of Russia and indeed the Assad regime", Raab said in his address to the Commons.
In the meantime, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern about the Turkish military operation.
"I'm concerned about the consequences for the gains we have made in fighting our common enemy Daesh", he told reporters.
The UK has announced an embargo of British arms exports to Turkey, joining the ranks of France, Germany, Finland, and several other countries.
The international community has been vocally critical of Ankara's operation, with a number of nations - including Russia and Iran - calling upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to immediately stop the military action and withdraw troops from Syria. Moscow, in turn, has urged Ankara to refrain from actions that could create obstacles to settling the civil war in Syria, which is now in its ninth year.
Prior to this, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the military operation in northern Syria was successfully continuing, with over 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles) of territory along the border having been cleared of terrorists.
Ankara launched a cross-border offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, on 9 October soon after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from their bases in Syria. Turkey's stated aim is to clear its border of Kurdish forces, which it views as terrorists, and to establish a 20-mile buffer zone in northern Syria.
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