human rights watch

onsdag 23 mars 2016


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shakes hands with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin.

MOSCOW — Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Turkey on Wednesday (March 23) of using the slogan 'war against terrorism' to suppress Kurds in northern Syria.

At a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow Lavrov said that Turkey was attacking Kurds and hindering their efforts at fighting the Islamic State (IS).

Russia called on March 1 for the Syrian-Turkish border to be closed, saying arms were being hidden in humanitarian aid convoys and channeled to IS fighters and their allies.

"Overall the flow hasn't stopped altogether but it has been reduced. Nevertheless it continues. And border crossing points between the two Kurdish enclaves in northern Syria are being actively used," said Lavrov referring to what he says is the illegal traffic across the Turkish-Syrian border.

"So when the Kurds try and take back territory from IS the Turkish side starts artillery strikes on the Kurdish positions frustrating their attempts to fight the terrorist organization," he added.

Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is on poor terms with Turkey since it shot down a Russian warplane last November, has repeatedly accused Ankara of preparing for an armed intervention across the border into Syria.

Lavrov said that information submitted by Russia on what it calls the illegal traffic across the Turkish-Syrian border to the UN was not mentioned in a recent report to the Security Council.

"I hope that it shows technical negligence and not attempts to show political correctness to the country which essentially refuses to effectively stick to the path of the fight against terrorism and more than that, is using the slogan of the war against terrorism to suppress Kurdish organizations in Syria and on their own territory," said Lavrov.

Lavrov said on Wednesday that Russia and Germany agreed on the need for inclusive Syria peace talks in Geneva.

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier said there was no time to lose in peace talks on the Syria conflict, and urged all parties not to stall the negotiations.

His comments contradicted those of Russia's presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, who also on Wednesday said that Syria peace talk participants must show patience.

Turkey's military carried out air strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey on Tuesday (March 22), the country's armed forces said.

In a statement on Wednesday the army said shelters, caves and ammunition depots used by PKK members had been hit by air strikes in northern Iraq and in rural areas near the southeastern town of Semdinli.


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