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Call for safe zone part of Turkey’s policy of ethnic cleansing in northern Syria: Damascus

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)
In this file picture, a Syrian boy watches as Turkish military vehicles, part of a US military convoy, take part in a joint patrol in the Syrian village of Hashisha on the outskirts of Tell Abyad town along the border with Turkey. (Photo via Getty Images)

Syria has once again rejected Turkish military operations in the northern part of the Arab country, saying the offensives and relevant arbitrary measures constitute war crimes and are part of the Ankara government’s policy of ethnic cleansing in the occupied territory.

An unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Monday that Damascus condemns the hostile measures of Turkish occupation forces over the past few days in northeastern Syria, especially in the towns of Tal Tamr and Abu Rasin as well as the northwestern flank of Hasakah province.

He said the measures have resulted in many civilian casualties, massive damage to public and private property plus critical infrastructure, and caused the displacement of dozens of families from their homes and villages.

The source denounced Turkey’s call for the establishment of a so-called safe zone in northern Syria as “a shameful act of aggression” and part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan administration’s policy of ethnic cleansing in occupied Syrian territories and efforts to change the demographic population there.

He highlighted that such attempts amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and are rejected under the UN Charter, international law and international humanitarian principles.

“Syria holds any party that operates without a mandate from the Syrian government and seeks to justify the Turkish government bloody campaigns against Syrians primarily responsible for the aggressive policies and colonial plans of Erdogan’s regime in Syria,” the source pointed out.

The source stressed that Damascus will never allow Syria's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity to be used as blackmail or bargaining chip by the Turkish government, Washington and certain Western countries that seek political gains at the expense of Syrian people and their country’s territorial integrity.

Following a cabinet meeting on May 23, Erdogan said Ankara aims to resume its efforts to create a 30-kilometer “safe zone” along its border with Syria.

“We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30-kilometer deep safe zone we established along our southern border," the Turkish president said.

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

Last week, he told lawmakers from his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament that "we have such a sensitivity as protecting our borders from attacks by terrorists' organizations."

He has also urged NATO member states 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 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 militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed 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.

The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria says the Turkish offensive has killed hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children since it started.

Turkey has played a major role in supporting terrorists in Syria ever since a major foreign-backed insurgency overtook the country more than ten years ago.

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

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