Turkey to UN: Protect Turkmen civilians in Syria

Published November 24th, 2015 - 08:30 GMT

Turkey has submitted a letter to the presidency of the UN Security Council, asking the 15-member body to take action to prevent the targeting of civilians in Syria.

The letter obtained by Anadolu Agency expresses grave concern about recent air and ground operations against the Turkmen-populated villages in the Bayirbucak Turkmen area in northwestern Syria, near Turkey's Yayladagi border crossing.

"The ongoing intense aerial bombardment which reportedly included use of cluster bombs by the Russian air forces and the land offensive by the Syrian regime forces, supported by Hezbollah militias have caused heavy civilian casualties," according to the letter that was sent Saturday to Britain, the current holder of the council's presidency.

"These deplorable actions targeting civilians can in no way be justified under the pretext of combating terrorism, since the area is void of terrorist groups, such as Daesh, Al Nusrah Front, and all other groups associated with al-Qaeda," it added.

Russia began airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30 in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people.

Neighboring Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, is now the world’s largest refugee-hosting country with more than 2 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

"The continuing grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the most recent offensive, are unacceptable and bound to further deepen the crisis in Syria," said the letter.

It called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Security Council and all UN agencies "to fully assume their responsibilities without further delay, to take all necessary measures to prevent the targeting of civilians."

Meanwhile, the British mission to the UN said it has taken under consideration Turkey’s propsal.

"We have received the letter as president of the Security Council. We are now discussing with partners next steps," a spokesman for the mission told Anadolu Agency.

Turkmens are a Turkic ethnic group based largely in Syria and Iraq, where they live alongside large Arab and Kurdish populations. The Turkmen community, which includes Sunni and Shia Muslims, shares close cultural ties with Turkey.

By Mustafa Caglayan

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material


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