BRUSSELS,— European Council president Donald Tusk said Friday after a meeting of EU leaders that Turkey’s US-brokered truce was not serious and demanded Ankara halt its offensive against Kurdish forces.
“The situation is quite obvious.
This so-called ‘ceasefire’ is not what we expected.
In fact it’s not a ceasefire, it’s a demand of capitulation of the Kurds,,” he told reporters.
“We have to reiterate our call to Turkey to put a permanent end to its military action immediately and withdraw its forces and respect the international humanitarian law.”
Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture.
Meanwhile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned that Ankara would restart its operation against Kurdish forces in Syrian Kurdistan on Tuesday evening if they do not withdraw from a “safe zone”.
“If the promises are kept until Tuesday evening, the safe zone issue will be resolved.
If it fails, the operation… will start the minute 120 hours are over,” Erdogan told reporters during a briefing in Istanbul.
He said Turkish armed forces would remain in the Syrian Kurdish region “because the security there requires this”, adding that there had been no issues so far.
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 Turkish assault in Syrian Kurdistan, calling it one of the largest upheavals since Syria’s civil war began in 2011.
Speaking to foreign press in Istanbul, Erdogan said 2 million refugees can be settled in the “safe zone”.
But the Kurds argue that Turkey’s goal is to weaken the Kurdish presence in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), the Kurdish region in northern Syria, by modifying the demographics of the area with the return of mostly Sunni Arab refugees.
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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