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Germany bans weapons sales to Turkey over Syria offensive

Germany has slammed the Turkish offensive in Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2019

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Germany said it is halting sales of weapons to Turkey over its controversial operation against Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
Germany has banned sales of weapons to Turkey over its operation against Kurdish militias in northern Syria, its foreign minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Berlin, along with many of its allies, has condemned the offensive that Ankara says is targeting the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia - a force that has played a key role against the Islamic State group in Syria.

"In the context of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the government will not issue any new permits for any military equipment that could be used in Syria by Turkey," Maas was quoted as telling the Sunday edition of Bild.

Last year, Germany exported arms totalling almost 243 million euros ($270 million) to fellow NATO member Turkey - almost a third of its total weapons sales of 771 million euros.

And in the first four months of this year, sales to Turkey - its biggest customer in NATO - reached 184 million euros.

Germany's population includes about 2.5 million people of Turkish origin.

Germany is one of the world's biggest arms exporters along with the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

Last year it imposed an embargo on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul. 

Maas this week warned that Turkey's operation risked the resurgence of IS in the region and that it could trigger a humanitarian disaster. 

 

But criticism of the controversial  offensive has not been limited to Germany.

France’s leader warned Trump in a phone call that Turkey's military action in northern Syria could lead to a resurgence of Islamic State activity.

President Emmanuel Macron "reiterated the need to make the Turkish offensive stop immediately," his office said in a statement on Saturday.

Read more: Islamic State group strikes Kurds amid intense Turkish offensive in Syria

On Friday, the Pentagon blasted Turkey for its three-day old assault, warning of "serious consequences" for its actions. The Trump administration also threatened sanctions on key Turkish officials over the matter.

The Netherlands and Norway, both NATO allies of Turkey, have suspended arms sales to Turkey over its latest offensive.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, has insisted the operation won't stop until the Syrian Kurdish forces withdraw below a 32 kilometre (20 miles) deep line from the border.

Ankara has said it aims to push back the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers terrorists for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG is a main component of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

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