Turkey's Syria assault is an 'invasion of an Arab state's land': Arab League chief

Turkey's Syria assault is an 'invasion of an Arab state's land': Arab League chief
Iraq and Lebanon have called for Syria's reinstatement to the Arab League in an emergency meeting of the body to discuss Turkey's cross-border operation against Syrian Kurds.
3 min read
12 October, 2019
Ahmed Aboul Gheit described the Turkish operation as an 'invasion' [Getty]
The head of the Arab League has slammed Turkey's ongoing military operation against Kurdish forces in Syria as a violation of the country's territorial integrity.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abould Gheit said on Saturday that Turkey's actions constitute an "invasion of an Arab state’s land and an aggression on its sovereignty," according to Reuters.

The Egyptian dimplomat made the remarks at an emergency meeting of the 22-member body on Saturday to discuss Ankara's cross-border assault, dubbed "Operation Spring of Peace".

Syria has been suspended from the Arab League since 2011, when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began its brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Calls for reinstatement

Speaking at the meeting on Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim also slammed the Turkish incursion into Syria, highlighting humanitarian concerns.

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The Turkish military operation "will exacerbate humanitarian crises, increase the suffering of the Syrian people, and strengthen the ability of terrorists to reorganise their remnants," Alhakim, who is president of the current Arab League session, said.

Alhakim also called for Syria's membership of the Arab League to be reinstated - a call which was backed also backed by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Syria has been largely ostracised by the Arab League, Europe and North America, following the war which erupted in 2011 after the regime's brutal military campaign against opposition rallies.

But Arab and Western officials have gradually come to accept that Assad will succeed in maintaining power, with some states having already made moves to re-establish diplomatic ties with Damascus.

Growing condemnation

The Turkish military offensive, now in its third day, has left dozens of fighters and civilians dead and sent 100,000 people fleeing their homes, according to a UN estimate.

The potential for a humanitarian disaster has prompted a growing chorus of international condemnation of the assault, including from Washington and Paris.

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.

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

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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