Situation in Syria and Iraq Following Turkey’s Invasion of Syria

This House of Lords Library Briefing contains a selection of material relevant for the forthcoming question for short debate on the situation in Syria and Iraq following Turkey’s invasion of Syria.

  • On 6 October 2019, a statement from the US White House said that the US president, Donald Trump, had spoken with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğ It said that Turkey would be beginning a “long-planned” military operation in Northern Syria. US armed forces would not “support or be involved” in the operation and they would “no longer be in the immediate area”. The statement also said that Turkey would now be responsible for all ISIS fighters captured over the past two years.
  • Turkey’s military operation in Northern Syria began on 9 October 2019 as part of “Operation Peace Spring”. Mr Erdoğan said the operation was targeted against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), the YPG (People’s Protection Units) and ISIS. Its aim was to prevent the creation of a “terror corridor” across Turkey’s southern border, neutralise terror threats to Turkey and to establish a safe zone that would “facilitate return of Syrian refugees to their homes”.
  • On 14 October 2019, Donald Trump announced that he would issue an executive order imposing sanctions “against current and former officials” in the Turkish government, and “any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria”.
  • On 15 October 2019, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, made a statement to the House of Commons condemning Turkey’s military action. Mr Raab stated that the UK would be keeping its defence exports to Turkey under continuous review. He explained that the UK would not grant further export licences to Turkey “for items that might be used in military operations in Syria […] while we conduct that review”.
  • On 17 October 2019, the US and Turkey reached agreement on a ceasefire in the region. The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke with President Erdoğan on 20 October 2019. Mr Johnson welcomed the agreement and said that the temporary suspension in fighting was a step in the right direction although concern remained about the military operation. The Prime Minister and the Turkish President agreed to try to meet alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the current situation.