Turkey has unilaterally moved a border fence deeper into Syrian territory in an apparent “land grab” violating Syria’s sovereignty, Syria’s ambassador to Russia has told RIA Novosti.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, Syrian ambassador Riad Haddad said Turkey “has moved the barbed-wire [border fence] deeper into our territory, exploiting the drying up of Afrin River southeast of the town of Jandaris, as if it is now Turkish lands.”
“This is how land grab is being done on Syrian soil,” the ambassador stated, stressing “we consider such actions a violation of our country’s sovereignty.”
Haddad also said the Turkish army has occupied Idlib governorate’s Qirbat and Atma districts, while sending heavy armor to seize territory near the town of Afrin. According to Syria’s ambassador, the Turks have begun preparations to build a wall that would split the captured lands off from Syrian territory.
Turkish troops, tanks, and combat aircraft first crossed into Syria on August 24, 2016. According to the Turkish government, the offensive dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield was launched to first suppress a Kurdish insurgency and move it away from the Turkish border, and then fight IS militants in northern Syria.
In recent months, the Turkish Army and allied Syrian rebels have seized the strategic towns of Jarablus and al-Bab, while advancing deeper into Syrian territory. Damascus has been adamantly against the Turkish invasion from the beginning, pointing to it as a complete violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.
Last week, Turkey declared Operation Euphrates Shield over, but warned that similar operations are likely to continue on Syrian soil under different names “if Turkey’s security is endangered.”
Ankara’s claims that its military activities in Syria have ended contradict the reality on the ground, however, ambassador Haddad said, warning that Syria has legitimate reason to repel Turkey’s aggression by any means if its actions in Syria’s north do not cease.