EU foreign ministers adopt strategy for Syria

TRIER, Germany: The European Union’s 28 foreign ministers have finalised a document on their strategy for future policy in the Syria conflict during a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
The Syrian government and its allies, notably Russia, must do all that it can for an end to hostilities and sieges and grant humanitarian access across the country, according to the document.
The strategy paper calls for an end to the war through political transition, a strengthening of the political opposition, humanitarian aid for especially vulnerable Syrians, a strengthening of civil society to support democracy, and the empowerment of resistance of the Syrian population.
Perpetrators of war crimes must also be punished in order to enable are conciliation within the country, according to the document.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country’s military operation in north Syria will continue. Erdogan’s statement comes a week after the prime minister said the main operation had come to an end. “We have finalised the first phase of Euphrates Shield Operation,” Erdogan said in Trabzon on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
“There will be more after this. Now we are making preparations for new operations to clamp down on terror groups in other regions too. We will give the new operations new names,” he said.
The Turkish government has confirmed that Turkish troops remain in Syria following the end of Euphrates Shield.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim last week declared the operation to have met its objectives and reached its conclusion, ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The cross-border operation was launched in August to tackle IS along the Syrian border and to counter the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Euphrates Shield has put about 2,000 square kilometres in northern Syria under the control of Turkish troops and Syrian rebel factions. The government in Damascus deems it an occupation.
The operation pushed IS off the border and prevented the YPG from connecting two areas of territory under its control.
The YPG remains the main US ally in Syria in the war against IS, much to Turkey’s consternation. — dpa