Erdogan should be prosecuted over Syrian offensive: former UN investigator

Former UN investigator Carla del Ponte said Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2019

Erdogan should be prosecuted over Syrian offensive: former UN investigator

  • Former UN investigator Carla del Ponte: Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria
  • Turkey’s NATO allies, including the United States, have criticized its military incursion in northeast Syria

ZURICH: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan should be investigated and indicted for war crimes over his country’s military offensive in Syria, former prosecutor and UN investigator Carla del Ponte said in an interview published on Saturday.
Del Ponte, a former member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria.
Ankara says its incursion — launched after US troops withdrew from the Syrian-Turkish border area — solely targeted the Kurdish YPG militia, which it regards as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.
“For Erdogan to be able to invade Syrian territory to destroy the Kurds is unbelievable,” said del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.
“An investigation should be opened into him and he should be charged with war crimes. He should not be allowed to get away with this scot free,” she told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende in an interview.
Ankara halted its military offensive last week under a US-brokered cease-fire. Erdogan then negotiated an accord with Russian President Vladimir Putin whereby Syrian border guards and Russian military police began clearing the YPG from within 30 km (19 miles) of the Syrian-Turkish frontier.
From Tuesday Russian and Turkish forces will start to patrol a narrower, 10-km strip of land in northeast Syria where US troops had been deployed for years alongside their former Kurdish allies.
Turkey’s NATO allies, including the United States, have criticized its military incursion in northeast Syria, fearing it will undermine the fight against Daesh militants.
But del Ponte said European nations were reluctant to confront Turkey over its actions after Erdogan threatened to “open the gates” for refugees to head to Europe.
“Erdogan has the refugees as a bargaining chip,” she said.
Del Ponte joined the three-member Syria inquiry in September 2012, chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys.
She quit in 2017, saying a lack of political backing from the UN Security Council made the job impossible.


Car bomb targeting Turkish contractors explodes in town outside Somali capital

Updated 18 January 2020

Car bomb targeting Turkish contractors explodes in town outside Somali capital

  • “A speeding suicide car bomb rammed into a place where the Turkish engineers and Somali police were having lunch,” an officer said
  • It was not know who carried out the attack but residents and police said Al-Shabab fighters had tried to attack Afgoye on Friday

MOGADISHU: A car bomb targeting a group of Turkish contractors exploded on Saturday in Afgoye, northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said.
There was no immediate word on any fatalities.
“A speeding suicide car bomb rammed into a place where the Turkish engineers and Somali police were having lunch,” police officer Nur Ali told Reuters from Afgoye.
It was not know who carried out the attack but residents and police said Al-Shabab fighters had tried to attack Afgoye, about 30 km from Mogadishu, late on Friday and were repulsed.
The Al-Qaeda-linked militant group has claimed responsibility for past attacks in its campaign to overturn Somalia’s UN-backed government.
“We heard a huge blast and soon clouds of smoke into the air. Before the blast, several Turkish engineers and well armed convoy of Somali police were at the scene,” Farah Abdullahi, a shopkeeper, told Reuters from Afgoye.
“We see casualties being carried but we cannot make if they are dead or injured.”
Since a 2011 famine in Somalia, Turkey has been a major source of aid to the country as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa in contest with Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkish engineers are helping with road construction in Somalia. A group of engineers was among those hit in late December in a blast at a checkpoint in Mogadishu that killed at least 90 people.