On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed no willingness to back down saying the military offensive into northeast Syria is as “vital” to Turkey as its 1974 military invasion of Cyprus, which resulted in ethnic cleansing and division of the island.
In a speech he delivered in Baku, Azerbaijan, Erdogan also stressed Turkey would not halt its offensive despite the worldwide condemnation it has drawn.
“We are determined to take our operation to the end. We will finish what we started. A hoisted flag does not come down,” Erdogan said adding that the offensive aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
According to the latest reports, more than 160,000 people have been displaced with 260 people, including women and children, killed and 40 towns and villages taken under Turkish control in just 96 hours of Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria.
Major changes have unfolded in the country since Turkey’s invasion six days ago, including shifting alliances and army movements.
Around 800 family members of IS fighters managed to flee and 41 areas of the 220km border region have come under Turkish control.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he will meet with NATO allies next week to urge them to take “diplomatic and economic measures” in response to Turkey’s operation into Syria.
The Financial Times reported that the UK is reviewing all arms export licences to Turkey amid mounting concern over Ankara’s cross-border military push and British ministers have suspended issuing new licences for weapons sales to Turkey while the review is being conducted.
Italy, the top arms exporter to Turkey last year, has joined France, Germany, and Spain to ban selling weapons and ammunition to Ankara.
Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
While US President Donald Trump released a statement that he will soon impose sanctions on Turkey over its military offensive in Syria.
“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region…The United States will aggressively use economic sanctions to target those who enable, facilitate and finance these heinous acts in Syria,” Trump said in the statement.
“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” he added.