The German government said on Monday that Turkey’s offensive into northeast Syria last year, targeting Syrian Kurdish forces, lacked legitimacy under international law, Der Tagesspiegel reported.
Turkey started so-called “Operation Peace Spring” on Oct. 9 to clear Kurdish-led forces it views as terrorists from areas south of its border, saying that the operation was of vital importance to its national security and was its right under international law.
“The federal government has announced that it cannot identify any reasons that would legitimise the operation under international law,” Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ,) said, in a response to questions from left-wing Die Linke lawmaker Helin Evrim Sommer.
“The fact that the federal government has, for the first time, officially announced that it does not recognise any reasons which legitimise Turkey’s attacks against the democratic self-administration in North-East Syria under international law is to be welcomed,” Tagesspiegel cited Sommer as saying.
“This is a diplomatically packaged but resounding slap in the face for the regime of [President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” she said.
Turkey’s operation early last year provoked international outrage as Ankara targeted Kurdish-led groups that had fought in the front lines against the Islamic State (ISIS), with the operation labelled as an invasion by many Western politicians and the press.
Turkey says Kurdish militants in Syria are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. The PKK has fought a four-decade war against the Turkish security forces for political autonomy for Kurds in Turkey at the cost of almost 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish.