Closed petition Defend the Kurds and stop the Turkish military invasion of northern Syria!

The British Government must call on Turkey and the USA to halt a Turkish military invasion that would allow a genocide against the Kurdish people - the very people who have lost over 11,000 fighters defeating ISIS over the past 5 years. We call on the government to do all it can to stop this.

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On Sunday October 6th, the White House released a statement saying President Trump and Turkey's Erdogan had spoken by phone and that Turkey's military operation into northern Syria would commence.

If Turkey's military action along its Syrian border goes ahead, there will be more bloodshed, the re-emergence of ISIS and it would be an act of betrayal (bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-49960973) and a direct assault on Kurdish rights and freedoms. Find out more at https://riseup4rojava.org/

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 October 2019

The UK opposes Turkey’s military intervention in Syria and has called on Turkey to end it. We welcome the halt in fighting following agreement on 17 October between the US and Turkey.

The UK is deeply concerned by Turkey’s military operation in north-east Syria.

Prior to the operation, we had repeatedly warned Turkey against conducting an intervention, noting that it risked undermining the stability and security of the region, harming the ongoing campaign against Daesh, and worsening the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

Following the start of the operation, on 10 October, the Foreign Secretary spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu and expressed the UK’s grave concerns. The Prime Minister repeated this to President Erdogan on 12 October where he urged Turkey to end their operation and agree a ceasefire. On the same day, the Foreign Secretary also addressed this issue at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

At the Foreign Affairs Council held on 14 October, the UK joined our European Union partners in condemning the Turkish action. We also discussed arms exports to Turkey with our European partners. The Foreign Secretary subsequently informed the House of Commons on 15 October that UK exports of military arms to Turkey that might be used in this operation, had been suspended subject to the review that will take place.

The UK also joined with fellow European members of the UN Security Council to request a discussion of the situation in north east Syria in the Security Council on 10 and 16 October.

We have been closely monitoring reports of violations of international humanitarian law during the operation. We are deeply concerned by reports of summary executions by Turkish-supported Syrian armed groups, including of Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf on 12 October. We condemn these killings, and have made clear to Turkey the need for an investigation.

We have also been clear that any efforts at deliberate demographic change following the operation would be unacceptable. We underlined this in a joint statement with partners including the US, France and Germany on 26 September, and in an EU statement on 9 October.

Following US Vice-President Pence, discussions with President Erdogan in Ankara on 17 October, a five-day Turkish ‘ceasefire’ in north east Syria was declared. This would allow the US to facilitate an orderly withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the ‘safe zone’ along the Turkish-Syrian border. If achieved, Turkey agreed to make the ceasefire permanent and the US would remove its sanctions against Turkey. No new US sanctions would be proposed in the meantime.

The UK welcomes this temporary suspension in fighting and the steps taken to implement the agreement. We want to see this lead to a permanent cessation of hostilities. The Prime Minister conveyed this message to President Erdogan on 20 October.

The UK government will continue to urge Turkey to to bring an end to its unilateral military action. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, maintaining regular contact with our international allies including the US, EU and NATO.

We remain committed to the Global Coalition Against Daesh and to the long-term security of the region. We pay tribute to the courage and sacrifices made by the Syrian Democratic Forces in their successful efforts against Daesh in Syria. We are in close contact with international partners on the impact of recent developments on the counter-Daesh campaign.

We are also concerned by the human cost of the Turkish intervention in a region of Syria where over 1.5 million people were already in need of humanitarian assistance.

The UK has already committed £40 million to north east Syria this financial year, to help address some of the most acute needs, including shelter, water, food and healthcare. We are hopeful that this money can be spent as planned. The Department for International Development is in daily contact with local partners and with the UN, both to ensure that people delivering assistance on the ground are safe, and to assess any impact on their ability to assist those in need. We have called on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies are able to operate safely on the ground.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office.