ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s top officials in separate statements on Wednesday and Thursday expressed deep concerns about Turkey’s military offensive into northern Syria, calling for de-escalation and dialogue that would bring about a peaceful solution.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Salahaddin University in Erbil, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani reiterated his concerns regarding the situation in Syria.
Barzani affirmed that “wars and demographic change will not bring security, peace and stability” to the region and called for “a peaceful and just solution that guarantees the rights of all parties.”
The Prime Minister on Wednesday chaired a meeting during which he discussed with members of his cabinet the evolving situation in Syria and its implications for the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
He stated that “any military escalation in the country’s north-east would have severe consequences beyond the Syrian border,” calling for dialogue to ease tensions and “prevent the loss of innocent lives and further displacement of people toward vulnerable areas or the Kurdistan Region, which is still hosting over 1.1 million refugees.”
The Kurdistan Region President, Nechirvan Barzani, also expressed his worries for the people in areas affected by the Turkish campaign, a statement from his office said. It added that the president “called upon the international community to take concrete steps to end the war and build lasting peace in Syria.”
President Barzani noted that the participation of “extremist groups” in the Turkish operation was cause for heightened concern.
“We have been closely monitoring the developments in Syria and we are deeply concerned about the military operation in the east of Euphrates, especially as of Syrian opposition are taking part in the operation.”
Addressing the same issue, a statement from the leadership of the Kurdistan Region Parliament called on Turkey “to halt its military campaign in Western Kurdistan,” a reference to the part of Syria whose population primarily comprises of Kurds.
The speaker of parliament and her deputies also called for “constructive dialogue” between both sides.
Turkey’s assault began on Wednesday with heavy artillery shelling and airstrikes on several areas along the sprawling Syrian–Turkish border, close to which are towns and cities controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Attacks continued on Thursday, leading to over ten deaths, including a twelve-year-old boy and his seven-year-old sister in the border city of Qamishli. Scores more have been injured.
Ankara sees the leading component of the SDF, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for expanded Kurdish rights.
On Thursday, Syrian Kurdish refugees organized demonstrations in multiple cities of the Kurdistan Region to condemn Turkey’s ongoing military incursion into northern Syria.
One protester said in front of the UN building in Erbil: “Allowing Turkey to attack Rojava [northeastern Syria] goes against the democratic and humanitarian values that world powers speak of.”
Editing by Nadia Riva