By Linda Bordoni
The news on Wednesday afternoon that Turkish armed forces and Syrian rebel allies had launched a military attack “east of the Euphrates” has raised fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis and more civilian victims.
In an interview with SIR news agency, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart said he fears “a slaughter and many innocent deaths”.
Reacting to Turkey’s decision to launch an attack on Syrian territory held by Kurdish-led forces with the aim of creating a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias, Jeanbart, who is the Greek-Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, said that although the Turkish President has called it “Operation Peace Spring”, it is “another source of violence we would rather have done without.”
“It is terrible,” he said.
Commenting on the Turkish President’s declared intent to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor” on the border, Jeanbart said this is concerning because it will in fact lead to the creation of a extra-territorial pocket within another nation.
The 40 kilometer-wide “safe-zone” would run along the entire 500 kilometer-long border between Syria and Turkey.
One of the most resource-rich areas in Syria
What’s more, Jeanbart noted “this area would occupy one of the most resource-rich parts of Syria, with water, oil, gas and fertile land.”
He also commented on Turkey’s purported aim to transfer some 2 million Syrian refugees currently hosted by Turkey into the so-called “safe-zone,” a move he said that would risk causing a “demographic earthquake, displacing Kurds from their homes and lands and creating the conditions for serious internal tensions.”
“It would be inhumane,” he said, and he expressed his belief that the conditions for an agreement between the parts that would safeguard the different requests put forward, still exist.
Instead, Jeanbart continued, “A military solution has been chosen” and this leads to “the risk of a real massacre with many innocent deaths.”
Rather than yield, Jeanbart said, the Kurds will fight until the end.
“I hope that dialogue can be resumed in order to find a peaceful solution, a compromise that guarantees safety for all parties involved,” he concluded.