Wales politics

Turkey-Syria offensive: Welsh Government expresses 'deep concern'

Syrian Kurds flee Kobani Image copyright AFP
Image caption Kurdish Syrian civilians flee the town of Kobani on the Turkish border

The Welsh Government has expressed its "deep concern" after Turkish troops entered Syria, in a letter to the foreign secretary.

International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan said Kurds in Wales with friends and family in Syria feel a "strong sense of injustice".

She asked UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to pressure Turkey to "facilitate dialogue".

A protest was held in Cardiff Bay against the operation on Wednesday.

The Welsh Government has no formal role in the foreign policy of the UK, but it is increasingly making its opinions known on international events.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched an operation to clear a Kurdish militia from a border area last week, after US troops pulled out.

The UK government has said it will not grant new export licences for weapons that may be used in military options in Syria.

In the letter to Mr Raab Ms Morgan said the Welsh Government wished to express "its deep concern for the safety for all civilians caught up in the conflict and support the call for all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law, including providing access for aid agencies".

"With the Kurds playing a significant role in stabilising Syria, there is a strong sense of injustice and international abandonment among the Kurdish Community in Wales who still have family and friends in Syria."

Image caption Eluned Morgan is the international relations minister for the Welsh Government

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt the military action.

Ms Morgan asked Mr Raab to "outline what else the UK government can do to bring the necessary pressure to facilitate dialogue", and what provisions are for international aid.

The letter was welcomed by Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru international relations spokeswoman, in the Senedd on Wednesday.

"The brave Kurds stopped ISIS in their tracks; they have been reliable allies to western countries over many years, but instead of being supported, they've been stabbed in the back once again," she said.

Plaid politicians pressed Ms Morgan to review and stop investments in arms firms in Wales that could be selling equipment to Turkey.

"I am concerned at the possibility that Welsh Government funds could, in theory, have been used to facilitate the selling of arms to Turkey, which again could now be being used against the Kurdish communities," said Ms Jewell.

Ms Morgan told AMs the Welsh Government is "undertaking a review of our entire export strategy at the moment and, of course, there will be issues that we will need to look at in relation to that".

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