Turkey has invaded north-eastern Syria (aka Rojava), attacking largely-Kurdish fighters who were key in defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil). And now, Turkish troops have reportedly bombarded a convoy of civilian vehicles taking residents of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa to a border town, inflicting casualties among them.
The Kurdish Hawar news agency said the attack on the road leading to the border town of Girê Spî (Tal Abyad) killed three people and left several others injured. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), meanwhile, said the Turkish air strike occurred when a convoy carrying a tribal leader reached the entrance of Girê Spî. It said several people were injured but no one was killed.
According to Al Jazeera, Rojavan defence forces said Turkish attacks have so far “killed five civilians and injured dozens more”. The SOHR claims the invasion has killed eight civilians.
Turkey has been bombarding Girê Spî since the start of its invasion on Wednesday. Rojavan defence forces, meanwhile, have responded to Turkish aggression with dozens of mortars.
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; and according to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, it has committed numerous war crimes in the process.
“Condemn the invasion”
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, has asked the EU not to use the word “invasion”. He prefers to call the attack ‘Operation Peace Spring’. He also renewed his threat to send Syrian refugees to Europe if the union challenges him, hitting out after Finnish prime minister Antti Rinne (whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency) condemned the invasion and urged the cessation of hostilities.
According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), “the UK has licensed £1.1 billion worth of arms to Turkey” since August 2014. And CAAT’s Andrew Smith said:
The UK Government must condemn the invasion and act to ensure that UK-made weapons are not contributing to the violence. It must take action by immediately stopping the arms sales and ending its political and military support for Turkish forces.
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, tweeted:
Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on North East Syria recently visited Rojava. And amid Turkey’s threats to invade, 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.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, meanwhile, expressed “disappointment” about Turkey’s “incursion”. And he said it would undermine the fight against Daesh:
Featured image via Flickr. Additional content via Press Association.