Germany under Fire over Use of Leopard Tanks in Afrin Offensive: Media

Germany under Fire over Use of Leopard Tanks in Afrin Offensive: Media

 German politicians call for an immediate halt to arms exports to Turkey after release of photos of German-made Leopard tanks during Turkish offensive on Afrin.

Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday (January 23) that the government of German has faced criticism over Turkey’s use of Leopard tanks in the offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces.

German opposition politicians responded with outrage to the photos of the tanks, which are being used by Turkey against Kurdish forces in northwestern Syria, DW stated.

Lawmaker and defense expert for Germany’s Green Party, Agnieszka Brugger, said the German government should clearly state its position on the Turkish military campaign against the Kurdish forces in Syria.

"An immediate halt to all arms exports to Turkey is long overdue," Brugger told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper, according to DW.

A spokesman for German defense ministry said it was not clear when the pictures were taken, DW reported. Foreign ministry officials also said the situation remained unclear.

"Except for the images shown in the media, which you all know about, we do not have any information about the use of Leopard tanks," a spokesman dealing with weapons exports in the economy ministry said.

Norbert Rottgen, head of Bundestag's foreign policy committee, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily that the Turkish attacks on Afrin was a violation of international law.

Photos of Leopard tanks deployed in northwestern Syria by the Turkish army released on social media since Turkey launched operation "Olive Branch" on Saturday to oust Kurdish forces in Afrin.

For the past four days, Turkish troops and allied rebels have been battling their way into Syria's Afrin canton, which is defended by the American-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The campaign has caused ripples of concern among Turkey's NATO allies, especially the United States that is still working closely with the YPG to defeat Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

President Donald Trump is expected to express American unease over a Turkish cross-border offensive into Syria, in a call scheduled with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. officials said Tuesday.