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Syria rejects Turkey’s call for safe zone in northern Syria as ‘aggressive, colonial act’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows a view of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates building in Damascus, Syria. (Photo by SANA)

Damascus has categorically rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyeb Erdogan’s call for the establishment of a so-called safe zone in the occupied northern part of the war-ravaged country, describing the proposal as an “aggressive, colonial act.” 

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two identical letters, addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the UN Security Council Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the Ankara government, through such a plan, seeks to create a volatile area inside Syria and continue to sponsor, arm and command terror groups against the Syrian nation.

The statement added that Turkey’s measures in Syrian territories are illegal and devoid of any legal effect, and even amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Syrian foreign ministry said it strongly rejects the recent disparaging and dangerous statements of Turkish officials, Erdogan in particular, regarding the establishment of a so-called buffer zone in northern Syria, emphasizing that Turkey plans to form colonies in occupied areas and launch military operations deep inside Syrian soil to impose its illegal measures.

“Aggression, occupation, and ethnic cleansing best explain the upshot of the illegal presence of Turkish forces in Syrian territories,” the statement read.

The statement went on to stress that Syria reserves the right to take all necessary measures stipulated in the UN Charter and international law to end Turkey’s practices of aggression, occupation, and ethnic cleansing against the Arab country.

The Syrian foreign ministry said Turkey continues to finance and arm Takfiri terrorist groups to use them against the Syrian nation and advance its extremist agenda, which poses grave dangers to regional and global peace and security.

The ministry stressed that Syria’s sovereignty, independence, safety, and territorial integrity must not be used as a plaything between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, which threatens regional and international peace and security, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which irresponsibly seeks to drag the region into a vicious circle of conflict.

It also warned Kurdish militants from the US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG) not to provide Turkey with any excuses for its colonial policies and scenarios in Syria.

The ministry finally called on UN member states to seriously follow up on the matter, and not remain silent on Turkey’s controversial policies and measures inside Syria.

Following a cabinet meeting on Monday, Erdogan said Ankara aims to resume its efforts to create a 30km “safe zone” along its border with Syria, saying, “We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30km deep safe zone we established along our southern border."

The Turkish did not provide further details but said the operation would begin after Turkey’s military, intelligence and security forces completed their preparations.

Last week, Erdogan had also told lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament that "we have such a sensitivity as protecting our borders from attacks by terrorists' organizations."

He has urged NATO members to support his country's efforts to establish a safe zone on the border with Syria.

Turkey has deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push YPG fighters away from border areas.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials have said Damascus will respond through all legitimate means available to the ongoing ground offensive by Turkish forces in the northern part of the Arab country.

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