WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. President Donald Trump issued a notice on the continuation of the national state of emergency regarding the situation in Syria, stating, “On October 14th 2019, under Executive Order 13,844, a national emergency was declared in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Authorities Act (50 USC 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy, shaped by the situation in Syria and in relation to it.”
“The situation in Syria, particularly the Turkish government’s actions to launch a military attack on northeastern Syria, undermines the campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, endangers civilians, and continues to pose an unusual threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy,” read the order.
It concluded, “For this reason, the national emergency declared on October 14th 2019 must continue after October 14th 2020, so in accordance with Article 202D of the National Emergency Law (50 USC 1622 (D), I declare the continuation of the national state of emergency declared in the executive order 13,894, for one year with regard to the situation in Syria.”
The executive order is, essentially, a warning to Turkey that if it renews its offensive operations in North and East Syria, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened last week. If Turkey were to restart its operation to create a “safe zone”, the U.S. could place sanctions on Turkey.
In October 2019, Turkey and its proxies in the Syrian National Army (SNA), a coalition of militias, several of them with extremist ideologies, formed and funded by Turkey, invaded the cities of Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) and Tel Abyad in North and East Syria, displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Since the invasion, dozens of Turkish military bases have been established in those areas. The bases are guarded by the SNA who are equipped with armored vehicles and heavy weapons. Additionally, a large number of Turkish commandos are reportedly stationed in the region.
Demographic change and the Turkification of the area continue, with residents being forced to learn the Turkish language, the names of public facilities being replaced with Turkish ones and the hoisting of the Turkish flag over them.
Other human rights abuses continue as well. Turkish-backed factions continue to burn agricultural crops, kidnap civilians for ransom, extort business and families for large sums of money, and engage in torture, murder, and sexual assault.
In September, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a 25-page report calling on Turkey to put an end to wide-spread war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by its proxy forces, the Syrian National Army (SNA), in the areas under its occupation.
According to the report, there is significant evidence that the Turkish-backed SNA has committed, and continue to commit torture, murder, displacement, rape, and the looting of property.