Urgent UK protests called as Turkey begins ‘illegal invasion’ of northern Syria

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Turkey has invaded north-eastern Syria, attacking largely-Kurdish fighters who were key in defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil).

NATO member Turkey targeting “civilian areas” in Syria invasion

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the start of the invasion, which followed an announcement on Sunday by Donald Trump that US troops supporting the fight against Daesh would step aside. Erdoğan called the attack ‘Operation Peace Spring’.

TV reports in Turkey said its warplanes had bombed the positions of Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria (aka Rojava). Turkish airstrikes hit the town of Serê Kaniyê‎ (Ras al-Ayn) on the Syrian side of the border, local activists said.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said Turkish warplanes were targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria, causing “a huge panic” in the region.

Earlier on Wednesday, warning of a “humanitarian catastrophe”, Rojavan forces issued a general mobilisation call ahead of Turkey’s attack.

The Turkish invasion will ignite new fighting in Syria’s eight-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that people had begun fleeing the border town of Girê Spî (Tal Abyad). Kurdish politician Nawaf Khalil, who is in Rojava, said some people were leaving the town for villages farther south.

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“War of aggression”

Activists have consistently called Turkey’s attacks on Rojava a “war of aggression”. Turkey is currently at war with Kurdish communities both at home and abroad because of their demands for self-determination. According to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, it has committed numerous war crimes in the process.

Turkey has long threatened to invade Rojava, but expectations of an invasion increased after Trump’s announcement on Sunday, although he later threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if he considered Turkish actions to go too far. The Turkish regime, however, has been massing troops for days along its border with Syria, vowing that it would go ahead with the attack and not bow to the US threat.

Protests planned against Turkey’s “illegal invasion”

In the UK, an “emergency demo” has been planned to oppose the “racist anti-Kurdish invasion”. Activists are calling on the British government to use its “position in NATO to stop the Turkish state invasion”:

Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on North East Syria recently visited Rojava. And amid Turkey’s recent threats, it condemned “what would be an illegal Turkish invasion of a neighbouring state”.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson, however, had apparently not commented on the invasion at the time of writing. Nor had foreign secretary Dominic Raab or the foreign office.

According to Campaign Against Arms Trade, “the UK has licensed £1.1 billion worth of arms to Turkey” since August 2014.

Featured image via Flickr. Additional content via Press Association.

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