Chris Den Hond
The situation in northern Syria, under Turkish airstrikes since 19 November, is getting worse as the world remains focused on Ukraine, French Senator Laurence Cohen said in a press conference on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is “taking advantage” of the Ukraine conflict, she said, condemning the targeting of civilian infrastructure including hospitals and schools.
Cohen also announced that a delegation of senators will be visiting the Kurdish-held region in northern Syria, known as Rojava in Kurdish.
Senator Nassimah Dindar, part of the delegation, said their goal was to meet the women of Rojava, who have “set up an exemplary participatory democracy that the entire region needs”, she said.
“A lot of MPs are in solidarity with this initiative to visit the region and see concretely what we feel from far away: That ISIS is imprisoned now, but they could break free tomorrow and become a danger for us in Europe again,” Dindar said.
“There is a temptation to abandon the Kurds,” Senator Rémi Féraud said. However, according to the senator, it would be a “moral fault” to abandon Kurds, who have been friends and allies to the French.
“They are an essential ally in the fight against jihadism. They have been, and they will be in the future. We have seen the consequences of allowing the Turkish army and its Islamist proxies to occupy Afrin, it led to an ethnic cleansing,” Féraud continued.
“We had warned against Erdoğan’s cross-border operations several months ago, signing a petition with 102 MPs. Unfortunately, Erdoğan has crossed this red line again, and wants to launch a ground operation into Syrian territory,” Senator Pierre Laurent said.
The senators will meet with the French foreign minister to request support of the government against Erdoğan’s aggression, they said. The delegation demands Turkey stop bombing the area, and France veto any and all Turkish ground operations in Syria and Iraq. Current expressions of concern and appeals to refrain have been “totally insufficient”, Féraud said.
Erdoğan aims to “not only occupy territory, but also undermine the democratic commitment” that the Kurds have built in Syria, Senator Cohen said.
The senators also voiced a demand for an international investigation into allegations of Turkey using chemical weapons in Iraq, and for France to support efforts to ascertain one.