Germany's Maas: Turkish 'invasion' not in line with international law
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has described the Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria as an "invasion" that is "not in accordance with international law."
Responding to the Turkish argument that Ankara has international law on its side, Maas said on German public television on Sunday evening: "After everything we know and after everything that Turkey itself has cited as a legal basis, we cannot share that view."
"We do not believe that an attack on Kurdish units or Kurdish militias is legitimate under international law," he told the programme "Berlin Direct" on the ZDF channel.
Syrians forge new lives in Istanbul
More than half a million refugees of Syrian origin currently live in Istanbul, carving out a niche for themselves in a new country under often difficult conditions. Initiatives such as "Small Projects Istanbul" help them in their search for housing, health care and school education. By Marian Brehmer
The province of Istanbul is the main destination of the approximately 3.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge in Turkey – ahead of the border provinces of Sanliurfa and Gaziantep
Syrians live in Istanbul mainly in the suburbs on the European side of the city, partly in ghetto-like districts, where whole rows of houses are inhabited by Syrians. The "Malta Bazaar" in Fatih is now known as "Little Damascus" due to its numerous Syrian shops
Many Syrians earn their living as day labourers for lack of a work permit. Numerous garbage collectors on the streets of the Bosphorus metropolis, who re-sell the plastic they collect at a price per kilo, come from Syria
"Small Projects Istanbul" is an NGO that has been supporting Syrian families for six years in areas such as housing, health care and school education. Small Projects Istanbul operates a community centre in the Capa district of Fatih, which is now used by around 200 Syrian families in the surrounding area
One of the core projects is the "Women's Empowerment Project", which organises weekly handicraft courses for Syrian housewives. The workshops in sewing, embroidery, crocheting, textile dyeing or macrame are aimed at women with different skills. One of the products they make are earrings in all colours and shapes
Wafa works in t-shirt production and is co-founder of the specially created product brand "Muhra", which is based on the conviction that each of the women has untapped talents. For Wafa, who lost her husband in Syria, the project brings not only a regular income but above all an increase in self-confidence
"I no longer feel only responsible for my family, but for the whole group and for the quality of our products," says Wafa, letting the scissors slide through the fabric. "My children are proud of the t-shirts I produce"
The finished t-shirts are printed with positive messages and motifs from the Arab culture. For those involved, this creative work helps them process the loss of their homeland
"It is important to us that the women put all the skills they learn here to good use later in their everyday lives," says U.S. social worker Lauren Simcic, who has lived in Turkey since 2015 and now co-ordinates the women's programme
Asked if the incursion constituted a violation of international law by Turkey, Maas said: "If there is no basis in international law for such an invasion, then it is not in accordance with international law."
He also warned Ankara about the potential loss of European payments under a scheme to keep Syrian refugees in Turkey.
"We also do not agree that Syrian Civil War refugees who are now in Turkey are then sent to north-east Syria in this way into this security zone, possibly against their will," Maas said.
These topics must be discussed with Turkey, also in connection with the refugee agreement, "because we will not pay money for things that we believe are not legitimate or legal," Maas said.
On 9 October, Turkey launched an offensive in north-eastern Syria against Syrian Kurdish militias it labels terrorists to create a 444-kilometre-long, 32-kilometre-deep "safe zone" along its border with Syria.
Ankara wants to start repatriating some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in its territory to this buffer zone. Under a 2016 deal to stem the flow of refugees to Europe, the European Union pledged up to 6 billion euros (6.59 billion dollars) to support the mostly Syrian refugees in Turkey. (dpa)