Germany and France have suspended all weapon sales to Turkey over its military offensive in northern Syria against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in north-eastern Syria, the Federal Government will not issue any new permits for all military equipment that could be used by Turkey in Syria”, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“In expectation of the end of this offensive, France has decided to suspend all plans to export to Turkey weapons that could be used in this offensive. This decision is with immediate effect,” a joint statement from the French foreign and defense ministries said.
French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly confirmed the suspension on Twitter.
Dans l’attente de la cessation de l’offensive turque dans le Nord-est syrien, la France a décidé de suspendre tout projet d’exportation vers la Turquie de matériels de guerre susceptibles d’être employés dans le cadre de cette offensive. Cette décision est d’effet immédiat.
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) October 12, 2019
According to reports, European Union countries may initiate an arms embargo on Turkey over its incursion into Syria as soon as next week.
Turkey launched a long-planned military operation, codenamed Operation Peace Spring, into northeastern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday.
The military offensive is being conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Islamic State “to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border and to bring peace to the area”, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for more than three decades. But the US backs the YPG and credits the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.
The Turkish offensive came just days after Donald Trump’s announcement that US troops would withdraw from the area, where thousands of captured ISIS fighters and their families are held by Kurdish forces. Trump’s decision to pull back US troops from Syria leaving the SDF vulnerable to attack has been widely criticized by allies and even some of the president’s staunchest Republican allies.