James Jeffrey, the US special envoy to Syria, on Wednesday told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “we’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes” during Turkey’s recent incursion into Syria. These allegations follow a number of other similar claims made by leading human rights organizations.
Jeffrey’s office has been investigating the actions of Turkey in Syria. A particular emphasis of their investigation has been concerns of “widespread ethnic cleansing,” of which they have not yet found evidence. Despite an apparent lack of evidence of any systemic crimes, they have found evidence of a myriad of smaller incidents. The details of these alleged crimes have not yet been disclosed to the public. However, several prominent organizations are alleging there is evidence of a variety of crimes, including the use of white phosphorus on civilians, the execution of civilians and other crimes.
Turkey has not responded to most of the specific allegations beyond categorical denial. They have, however, addressed their troops involvement in the executions by stating they did not have forces present in that region at the time of the incident.
Jeffrey went on to say, “The Turkish incursion into northeast Syria is a tragedy. It was long-standing US government policy in two administrations to keep that from happening and we were clearly not successful.”
Shortly after the hearing, President Donald Trump announced that the US will be lifting all sanctions placed on Turkey during the conflict as part of a broader deal to reach a “permanent ceasefire.”