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12 Oct, 2019 13:21

Germany halts arms exports to Turkey following offensive in Syria – Foreign Minister

Germany halts arms exports to Turkey following offensive in Syria – Foreign Minister

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that Berlin will not issue any new arms export permits to Turkey in light of its Northern Syrian offensive. Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish militias has triggered widespread condemnation.

"Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the Federal Government will not issue any new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria," Mass told Bild am Sonntag.

Mass stopped short of announcing a complete halt on weapons sales to Ankara, instead stating that weapons that could be used against the Kurds in Northern Syria will be affected. Arms exported under existing permits will presumably remain untouched.

Germany sold more than 240 million euros worth of arms to Turkey in 2018, accounting for almost a third of the country’s weapons exports. Ankara, a NATO partner of Germany, is the number one buyer of German arms.

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Following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Kurdish-held Northern Syria last weekend, Turkey immediately launched an offensive against Kurdish militias in the area, which it considers terrorist groups. Trump has been criticized for “abandoning” the Kurds, who were US allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also been criticized by world leaders for his anti-Kurdish operation. Washington has threatened economic sanctions, while EU leaders are meeting next week to discuss similar penalties, and Norway has suspended its own arms sales to Ankara in response.

Erdogan remains defiant, however. With his country’s military having waged a low-intensity campaign against Kurdish forces along its border for four decades, the Turkish leader said on Friday that “we will never stop this fight, no matter what anyone says.” He hastened to add that the Turkish offensive would not target civilians.

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