BERLIN, October 12. /TASS/. The German government has suspended arms exports to Ankara following Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German weekly Bild Am Sonntag in an interview published on Saturday.
“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in north-eastern Syria, the Federal Government will not issue any new permits for all military equipment that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” said the German foreign minister.
Since 2016, according to Maas, the German cabinet has abided by strict procedures related to arms exports to Turkey, particularly after Ankara’s operation near Afrin. Nonetheless, Berlin has not declared a total ban on arms exports since.
In the first four months of 2019, Ankara imported German weapons worth 184.1 million euros and is ranked first among exporters of German military equipment. In 2018, Germany sold Turkey military goods worth 242.8 million euros, accounting for nearly a third of German exports of arms (770.8 million euros).
On October 9, Ankara launched an offensive in north Syria dubbed Operation Peace Spring, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish units. The objective is to establish a safety zone in northern Syria for protection of the Turkish border. In addition, Syrian refugees could return to that area from Turkey, Ankara believes. Syria’s SANA news agency slammed Ankara’s operation as an act of aggression.