Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt fears Turkey's invasion of Syria will ignite fresh terror crisis in the Middle East

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BRITAIN’S former defence secretary has condemned Turkey’s invasion of Syria, claiming the attack could ignite a fresh terror crisis in the Middle East.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has launched a blistering critique of the invasion, which she feared would be ‘bad for refugees, bad for security and bad for defence’.

It came as the Turkish military continued to hammer Syrian border towns with artillery fire and airstrikes in an assault on Kurdish forces – many of whom had been backed by the UK and the US during the fight against Islamic State.

In a statement on Twitter, Ms Mordaunt branded the military actions as: ‘Bad for refugees. Bad for security. Bad for future defence. Bad for rules-based order. Bad for Nato. [But] Good for just about every terrorist organisation and hostile state you care to name.’

The invasion, now in its second day, has seen horrified residents in the besieged communities scramble to flee the bombardment.

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Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.  Photo: Delil SouleimanAFP via Getty Images

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. Photo: Delil SouleimanAFP via Getty Images

Terrified civilians, who stayed put in the border town of Tal Abyad, reportedly sent panicked messages saying they had ‘nowhere to hide’ when Turkish bombers began their assault.

The controversial incursion was effectively green-lit by US president Donald Trump earlier this week after he agreed to withdrew US troops supporting Kurdish-led forces in the area.

The situation has rocked the 4,000-strong Kurdish community in Portsmouth, who branded it a ‘shocking betrayal’.

Portsmouth Kurdish resident Kamaran Nawrooz, who survived the 1988 Halabja chemical attack in Iraq, was horrified.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and former defence secretary, has condemned the invasion of Syria by Turkey. Photo: A/Sgt Lee Goddard

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and former defence secretary, has condemned the invasion of Syria by Turkey. Photo: A/Sgt Lee Goddard

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The 42-year father-of-two, who now lives in Stamshaw, said: ‘We are all so shocked. We cannot believe the US – our allies – have deserted us.

‘The Kurdish people have been fighting for peace in the Middle East against ISIS. We fought with America against the terrorists. Now we’ve been abandoned.

‘This will now make things worse in the Middle East and more difficult.’

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted his troops, working with their Syrian rebel allies, had launched the offensive to ‘prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area’.

‘Operation Peace Spring will neutralise terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes,’ he added.

However, the United Nations has repeatedly warned any military operation would put 1.7 million people in jeopardy, particularly as 700,000 of them rely on aid.

While human rights groups claim the fighting could spark the displacement of up to 300,000 civilians, triggering a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad after Turkish bombings, in a picture taken from the Turkish side of the border near Akcakale in the Sanliurfa province on October 9, 2019. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad after Turkish bombings, in a picture taken from the Turkish side of the border near Akcakale in the Sanliurfa province on October 9, 2019. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images