UN calls for Russia to avoid civilian casualties in Syria

United Nations calls for Russia to avoid civilian casualties in Syria amid violence in Turkmen-populated areas recently

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Recent violence in Turkmen-populated areas in Syria 'increasing the risk of massive displacement,' says UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric

The United Nations on Monday urged Russia and other countries carrying out air strikes in Syria to avoid civilian casualties and any damage to civilian property, amid the violence in Turkmen-populated areas in recent days.

"Everything should be done to avoid any damage, any casualties to civilians and it should be done within international law," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said citing recent attacks by Russia and Syrian regime forces on Turkmen-populated areas in northwestern Syria.

Recent simultaneous air and ground attacks by Russian jets and Syrian government forces have displaced thousands of Turkmens.

"The violence, whether it come from the air or from the ground, is only increasing the risk of massive displacement," said Dujarric.

Turkmens are a Turkic-rooted ethnic group populated mainly in Syria and Iraq where they live with large Arab and Kurdish people. The Turkmen community includes Sunni and Shia Muslims. Turkmens and Turkey share close cultural ties.

On Monday, Turkey called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the recent attacks on Turkmens in Syria.

The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution authorizing humanitarian aid access into rebel-held areas of Syria, during a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on July 14, 2014 (Reuters/Archive)

Around 5,000 Syrian Turkmen were forced to evacuate their villages and flee to the Syrian-Turkish border following an intense three day aerial bombardment of their villages by Russia and a ground assault by forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

1,700 Turkmens have already arrived in Turkey’s south in the past few days but the number is likely to rise with Russian air strikes being carried out on at least 14 Turkmen villages., the governor of the southern Turkish province of Hatay, Ercan Topaca, said.

Turkey has been alarmed by the situation of Syrian Turkmens who were forced to flee and sought refuge in any place which they deemed safe along the Syrian-Turkish border. They have stated that they are ready to meet the needs of the Turkmen refugees as the weather gets colder.

Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu also spoke to his US counterpart John Kerry late on Friday in a phone call concerning the assaults on the Turkmen villages.

TRTWorld and agencies