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Canada joins NATO allies in suspending arms sales to Turkey

Turkish Armed Forces' armoured military vehicles, personnel carriers and tanks are being dispatched from Hatay to support the units at the Syrian's Idlib border, in Hatay, Turkey on January 11, 2019 [Erdal Türkoğlu / Anadolu Agency]
Turkish Armed Forces' armoured military vehicles, personnel carriers and tanks are being dispatched from Hatay to support the units at the Syrian's Idlib border on 11 January 2019 [Erdal Türkoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

Canada has joined fellow NATO members in pausing arms sale to Ankara, as the Turkish government comes under pressure to halt its military operation into north-eastern Syria. Global Affairs Canada, the country's foreign ministry, announced the decision yesterday saying that Ottawa has "temporarily suspended new export permits to Turkey."

Ottawa's foreign ministry also denounced Ankara over its military assault. "Canada firmly condemns Turkey's military incursion into Syria," the ministry is reported saying in a statement. "This unilateral action risks undermining the stability of an already-fragile region, exacerbating the humanitarian situation and rolling back progress achieved by the Global Coalition Against Daesh, of which Turkey is a member," the statement added.

Germany and France announced Saturday that they were halting arms exports to Turkey. In Britain, meanwhile, a day after foreign ministers from all 28 European Union member states agreed unanimously to stop selling arms to Turkey — the first time the bloc has reached such a decision about a NATO ally — London announced a pause in such ties with Turkey.

Dominic Raab, Britain's foreign secretary, told the House of Commons yesterday that "no further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted" until the government had conducted a review. He further called on Turkey to "exercise maximum restraint and to bring an end to this unilateral military action".

The UK is also considering possible economic sanctions against Turkey, according to Raab but he explained that this is not a popular decision within the EU at the moment as it is unlikely to achieve the goal of ending the Turkish offensive. He also ruled out a no-fly zone in northern Syria as impractical. Raab warned against "doing anything that might drive Turkey further into the arms of Russia and President Putin".

READ: Syria regime approaches area of Turkey military operation

Ottawa and the UK are the latest to take concrete steps against Turkey over it's military operation into north-eastern Syria which Ankara says is essential to create a "safe zone" for the return of Syrian refugees and drive out militant Kurdish fighters.

The US has lead the effort to apply pressure by hitting Ankara with new sanctions. A high-profile US delegation is also expected to arrive in Turkey tomorrow in an attempt to persuade President Erdogan to end his military incursion.

Erdogan, however, has remained defiant telling the US that he will never declare a ceasefire in north-eastern Syria and that he will not negotiate with Kurdish forces.

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