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Rudaw

Syria

UK ‘will hold’ Turkey to pledge to protect civilians in Afrin

By Rudaw 13/3/2018
Hundreds of civilians are fleeing Afrin city as Turkish forces advance. Photo: AFP
Hundreds of civilians are fleeing Afrin city as Turkish forces advance. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Acknowledging that Kurds are close ally of the United Kingdom in the war against ISIS and stressing that the UK has raised to Turkey its concerns about protection of civilians in Afrin, the British Minister of State for the Middle East said that political “complexities” makes a resolution difficult. 

Taking questions from British lawmakers from across the political spectrum, many of whom said they have Kurdish communities in their constituents who are angry and sad about the Turkish military offensive on Afrin, Minister Alistair Burt said that the British government is closely following developments and has been in contact with Ankara, including at the leader level. 

Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the need for protection of civilians and proper humanitarian access with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Burt said.

Turkey has assured Britain that it is working to protect civilians in answer to the UK repeatedly raising its concerns. “We believe the Turkish government and we will hold them to their statement,” said Burt. 

Though the UK has many concerns about the operation and the protection of civilities, Burt repeated that they “recognize Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.”

Turkey considers the Kurdish groups in Afrin and Rojava as branches of the PKK, a named terror organization, and has framed its Operation Olive Branch as a counter-terror one. 

Burt said the UK recognizes some similarities in ideology between the YPG in Rojava and the PKK, “but not the direct link that is claimed by Turkey.”

However, “complexities of the politics in that area, in parts of Syria, in Iraq, in Turkey are what has led to the present situation,” and finding a solution is difficult, he noted. 

Kate Osamor, a Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, spoke in much harsher terms, saying “We can never excuse throwing the word terrorism around to justify human rights abuses.”

“The incursion is neither legitimate nor justified. It should never have been allowed in the first place and it has no basis in international law. An olive branch… there could hardly have been a less suitable name for the assault,” she said. 

She condemned Turkey’s “unforgiveable” targeting of civilian areas, saying, “This is not an olive branch. It is a stick to beat the Kurdish community.”

While international agencies like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have had to suspend their operations in Afrin because of the military operations, Burt said the UK is working to ensure aid is prepositioned on the ground so that it is available for any civilians fleeing the area. 

Related: Hundreds of civilians flee Afrin

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kurt basar | 13/3/2018
UK is a good joker, they know very well that the Islamic dog's of the Turkish terror state w/rabies wouldn't know meaning of the pledge, the western nations & Russia are commuting a heinous crime by letting those Turkish/ ISIL Barbarians slaughtering of the Kurd's, it's a disgrace and first rate betrayal, god help the Kurd's.
Adam | 13/3/2018
What a concern.. bull shit talking britain
Rebwar | 13/3/2018
Bullshit! UK dismembered Kurdistan 100 years ago which led to decades long genocide of the Kurdish people including the latest in Afrin. UK is as guilty of Kurdish genocide as Erdogan and Saddam. We Kurds shall never forget what UK did to us and what UK continues to do by supporting a genocidal dictator like Erdogan against Kurds! Boris Johnson is either a complete moron who doesn't see reality or a bigot who sits on his condescending white ass and preaches moral values when has has none!
JPL | 13/3/2018
How do you protect civilians when you bomb a city indiscriminately?
GOKCE KAVAK | 13/3/2018
Kate Osamor, the Labour Party's Ministry of Parliament of the United Kingdom 🇬🇧, needs to realise that the banned, outlawed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)'s Syrian Arm the People's Protectionist Units (YPG) has been trying to block the passage of civilians in Syria 🇸🇾 to waive the lie of the Turkish massacre in the Afrin region in Syria 🇸🇾 and the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 states that Turkey 🇹🇷 is no way responsible for the PKK and YPG-torn areas in Northern Syria 🇸🇾, as the PKK and YPG has been exactly doing this job to trick the whole world and universe to show Turkey 🇹🇷 is responsible for this, especially its closest ally and friend, and partner, fellow and family member or the member state of NATO, the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 as well.
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