PRAGUE,— Czech President Milos Zeman has accused fellow NATO member Turkey of teaming up with terrorists during its offensive in Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish region in northeastern Syria, and of committing war crimes.
“President Erdogan calls the Kurds terrorists, but I strongly disagree,” Zeman said late Thursday during a talk show on the private Czech Barrandov television station.
“On the contrary, I’m asking myself if those who attack the Kurds and commit those beastly murders like the murder of that Kurdish politician are not terrorists themselves.”
Zeman was referring to the summary execution of the prominent female politician Hevrin Khalaf by Turkey’s Syrian allies during the operation launched on October 9 to remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from areas near its border.
The outspoken veteran leftwinger, who is known for his pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, anti-Muslim views, also said Turkey was building close ties “with Islamism, with the radical, murderous Islamism we have now seen in northeastern Syria”.
“I think Turkey has committed war crimes and in any case I think it should not be an EU member at least.”
The Czech Republic, like a number of other EU members, has halted arms exports to Turkey, and its lawmakers have branded the Turkish offensive in Syria a breach of international law.
Zeman also criticised the United States and the EU for having betrayed the Kurds, who helped them fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
“We honoured them when we needed them to fight the Islamic State and now we have let them down,” Zeman said, drawing a parallel with the 1938 betrayal of the former Czechoslovakia by Western allies in the run-up to World War II.
Turkey has now announced a 120-hour suspension of its offensive following a deal with US Vice President Mike Pence, calling on the Kurds to withdraw from a border strip which will become a “safe zone”.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor has meanwhile put the number far higher, saying more than 300,000 civilians had been displaced by the assault, calling it one of the largest upheavals since Syria’s civil war began in 2011.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S.
has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.
Syria’s Kurds have detained thousands of local and foreign fighters suspected of fighting for Islamic State, as well as thousands of related women and children.
11,000 Kurdish male and female fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate the Islamic State “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq.
Syria’s Kurds have established a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Syria during the country’s eight-year war.
In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013.
On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.
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