Merkel worried over Russia’s influence in Syria


Germany’s chancellor on Thursday voiced concern over the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria, arguing that it would further increase the influence of Russia and Iran in the region.

Addressing lawmakers at the Bundestag before heading to Brussels for a summit of EU leaders, Angela Merkel criticized Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation in northern Syria, expressed concerns over the recent U.S.-Turkey tensions and President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from the region.

“Talking about the geopolitical repercussions, we have to figure out that Russia has significantly increased its influence in the region, together with Iran, after the withdrawal of American soldiers,” she said.

“And the consequences of this new situation is not yet foreseeable,” Merkel added.

The German chancellor repeated her criticism of Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation against the YPG/PKK group in northern Syria, arguing that this might lead to a humanitarian crisis and further instability in the region.

She was silent about the YPG/PKK’s terrorist attacks that claimed many lives in Turkey, the group’s persecution of political opponents and religious minorities in Syria.

Germany’s domestic intelligence BfV described the terrorist PKK group and its Syrian affiliates — YPG and PYD — as “sister organizations”, in recent reports published by the agency on the website.

Turkish politicians have repeatedly criticized Berlin for tolerating activities of the PKK, although the terrorist group has been banned in Germany since 1993.

Ankara on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates river to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there, to pave the way for the safe return of Syrian refugees to the region and to ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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