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Britain's labour movement condemns Turkish invasion of Syria

UNIONS and campaigners joined the international outcry against Turkey’s attack on Kurdish forces in Syria today with calls for government action and an arms embargo.

Turkey has exploited Donald Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria and attacked Kurdish forces who helped defeat Isis terrorists.

Twelve trade unions are among labour movement bodies which have written a joint statement to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging the government to condemn Turkey’s action and to act “to avert ethnic cleansing and potential genocide.”

They called for establishment of a “no-fly” zone over the area.

Unions signing the letter to Mr Johnson include Unite, GMB, CWU, PCS, Aslef, TSSA, NEU, Usdaw, RMT, Prospect, BFAWU and EIS.

Trade union law firm Thompson’s Solicitors and the General Federation of Trade Unions were also among the signatories.

Simon Dubbins, Unite’s international director, has just returned from the region.

He said: “It is plain for all to see how extremely dangerous the situation is and the human misery that will unfold unless the international community comes together and stands as one against this appalling and unwarranted aggression.” 

The unions’ letter reminded the British government and the international community of the debt owed to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces for their “sacrifice in stopping and defeating Isis.”

The letter called on the government “to work with the international community to deploy an international force and enforce a no-fly zone to prevent the imminent catastrophe and protect civilian lives.”

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) also demanded an arms embargo against Turkey, and said that since authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power Britain has sold Turkey £1.1 billion worth of weapons.

Andrew Smith of CAAT said British-made weapons sold to Turkey include aircraft, helicopters, drones, tanks, grenades, bombs and missiles.

“This war could have far-reaching and devastating consequences for Kurdish people and the wider region,” he said.

“The British government must condemn the invasion and act to ensure that British-made weapons are not contributing to the violence. It must take action by immediately stopping the arms sales and ending its political and military support for Turkish forces.”

A Downing Street spokesman said last night: “The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this evening.

“The leaders expressed their serious concern at Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria and the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.”


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