Canada has “temporarily” suspended new arms export permits to Turkey following that country’s incursion into northern Syria, Global Affairs Canada said Tuesday.
In a written statement, a government spokesman re-iterated that Canada condemns Turkey’s military action, which the government of President Recep Erdogan says is necessary to create a buffer zone against Kurdish militia forces.
“This unilateral action risks undermining the stability of an already fragile region, exacerbating the humanitarian situation and rolling back progress achieved by the Global Coalition Against Daesh, of which Turkey is a member,” said spokesman Guillaume Berube.
“We call for the protection of civilians and on all parties to respect their obligations under international law, including unhindered access for humanitarian aid.”
Over the weekend other nations — Britain, France and Germany — also suspended arms sales to Turkey because of its decision to attack Kurdish forces.
The suspension of Canadian weapons exports was first reported by Postmedia.
Turkey is on a list of trusted countries where Canadian defence contractors can safely do business and sell sophisticated, restricted weapons.
UN issues warning
The United Nations warned on Tuesday that Turkey could be held responsible for executions of captured Kurdish fighters and a politician by an affiliated armed group.
The world body said the acts “may amount to war crimes.”
Federal government reports show Canada has been selling an increasing number of weapons and weapons systems to Turkey.
The federal government’s annual report on the export of military goods shows Canadian defence contractors sold $115.7 million worth of equipment to Erdogan’s government last year— a substantial jump from the $7.5 million in weapons sold in 2015.
Most of what Canada has shipped to Turkey involves electronics and high-end surveillance technology which can be used for targeting.
It is, however, difficult to compile a precise inventory and the federal government would not respond to questions related to individual sales.