Published On: Thu, Oct 10th, 2019

SYRIA: U.S., Russia Veto Statement to UN Security Council On Operation Peace Spring

By Janet Ekstract

UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – After a closed-door emergency meeting on Thursday, called by five of the UN Security Council members – U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft relayed President Trump’s message on the Turkish cross-border military Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria.

Ambassador Craft told the press that the U.S. president “in no way” endorsed the incursion into northeastern Syria. The ambassador strongly emphasized that Trump expects Turkey to “bear full responsibility” for the safety of religious minorities, civilians and other vulnerable groups within Syria with “no exceptions.”

Despite five major UN Security Council European members issuing a joint statement -urging Turkey “to cease the unilateral military action,” both the U.S. and Russia vetoed that statement. The council members’ concern is that the Turkish incursion threatens progress by a global coalition made against the extremist Islamic State (ISIS) also known as (Daesh). The European members who issued the statement include Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Poland.

But, the five members gave a stern warning: “Renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements.”

In the wake of the West’s backlash to the incursion, Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Feridun Sinirlioglu presented a letter to the UN Security Council President to reiterate that Turkey will not use excessive force and will act responsibly.

Turkey’s letter, presented by Sinirlioglu included assurances that its Operation Peace Spring “will target only terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment.” Turkey also gave its assurances to support efforts on behalf of the displaced to “facilitate safe and voluntary returns of displaced Syrians to their homes of origin or other places of their choice in Syria.” The letter emphasized that this would be done “in line with international law and in coordination with relevant UN agencies.” 

In the meantime, Russia, a key Syrian ally made its concerns known. Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the press that any council statement on Syria must address broader issues including the presence of foreign forces in the country. Vassily added: “This operation is a result of the demographic engineering that some of the coalition partners did in the Northeast of Syria. We warned them long time [ago] not to try to counter the Arab tribes that live traditionally in that area to the Kurdish ones and now, in fact, the coalition is reaping the fruit of their demographic policy in that part of Syria.”

Meanwhile, concerning civilian safety, the Syrian National Army (SNA) guaranteed the safety of civilians in Syria as Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring got underway on Wednesday, east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. Under this operation, a multitude of villages are being cleared of terrorist elements with the dual goal of securing the Syrian-Turkish border and ensuring the return of Syrian refugees to a ‘safe zone’ that Turkish forces plan to expand once the terrorist elements are eliminated from the area.

The operation began Wednesday after a limited number of U.S. troops were ordered by President Trump to be moved out of the area of the cross-border incursion, days before.  

Turkey had previously freed up an almost 1,500-mile area from terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Cavusoglu emphasized: “The whole border [between Turkey and Syria] must be made a safe zone.”  He added that YPG is a terrorist organization and that the YPG in Syria keeps Daesh terrorists as a weapon. He concluded:” The YPG fought against Daesh to expand its area and to divide Syria.”

Backlash on the incursion continues as French President Emmanuel Macron spoke out against the Turkish military operation at the gathering of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, also in attendance, told the Turkish press that Macron had “overstepped his boundaries.”

In addition, the UK’s UN Envoy, Karen Pierce said that Turkey has given its assurances that it will respect international humanitarian laws during its operation. But, Pierce also commented that British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab expressed “serious concerns” to his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu about the great potential for humanitarian suffering.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic made their statement from Geneva on Friday. The first paragraph read as follows: “The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic notes with grave concern the military offensive and aerial campaign being launched in northeast Syria on 9 October. The last thing Syrians need now is a new wave of violence.”

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