UN ‘preparing for the worst’ from Turkey’s Syria operation

GENEVA The United Nations said Monday it was

preparing for the worst in northeast Syria after the United States said it

would step aside to allow for Turkish military operations in the area.

We don't know what is going to happen. We are preparing for the worst,

the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, said in

Geneva.

Turkey has threatened an offensive in Syria against Kurdish forces which it

considers terrorists.

Moumtzis said there were a lot of unanswered questions about the

consequences of the operation.

He added that the UN was in contact with all sides on the ground.

But he made clear his office did not have advance warning about the US

decision, which effectively abandons the Kurds, Washington's main allies in

the long battle against the so-called Islamic State group.

Moumtzis said the UN's priorities were to ensure that any prospective

Turkish offensive not result in new displacements, that humanitarian access

remain unhindered and that no restrictions be put in place on freedom of

movement.

He said the UN was asking that planners, the military, take into account

that fact that there (are) hundreds of thousands of people who live in

this area.

The UN currently provides emergency relief to about 700,000 people in

northeast Syria.

Moumtzis said the UN was worried about possible disruptions to

humanitarian aid routes and had made contingency plans to address additional

civilian suffering.

He added that Turkey had a good record of facilitating aid deliveries

throughout the Syrian conflict and that the de facto authorities in the

northeast, meaning the Kurds, had also been cooperative with UN humanitarian

operations.

Turkey has sent reinforcements to the border in recent weeks, and President

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the long-threatened offensive could come

any night without warning.

His comments came after Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter

that Turkey was determined to ensure our country's existence and security by

clearing terrorists from this region.

He was referring to the SDF, or Syrian Democratic Forces, which have ties

to Kurdish militants inside Turkey and which Ankara considers a terrorist

organisation.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)