Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an investigation into reports of the violation of Kurds’ rights by the Turkish government in the country’s southeastern region.
The Russian foreign minister made the remarks during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in the Russian capital, Moscow, on Wednesday.
“Any reports, particularly those documented ones, about rude and large scale human rights abuse and violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated. There are special international procedures for that,” Lavrov said.
The top diplomat called on the international community to respond to the situation.
According to reports from Turkey’s Kurdish areas in the southeast, entire residential blocks have been destroyed in the cities of Cizre and Diyarbakir, a devastation resembling some neighborhoods in Syria after five years of foreign-backed militancy.
There have also been reports of a massacre of dozens or possibly hundreds of Kurdish civilians, including children, in Cizre at the hands of Turkish soldiers.
A report by a rights group also says more than 160 civilians, including 29 women, 32 children, and 24 elderly people, were killed from August to December last year in Turkey’s Kurdish areas.
Lavrov accused Ankara of targeting the Kurds immediately after a deadly attack in the capital city last year, which Turkey blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants without launching an investigation or announcing official findings.
“The Turkish side began to use this as a pretext to justify the ongoing missile and artillery attacks of Syrian territory in the areas traditionally inhabited by Kurds,” Lavrov added.
He further warned that Turkey’s actions in the region were undermining the negotiated cessation of hostilities in Syria as a new round of indirect talks on the crisis is underway between the Damascus government and the foreign-backed opposition in Geneva, Switzerland.
Since last August, Turkey has imposed nearly 60 curfews in its Kurdish regions, disrupting the lives of some 1.4 million people living in those areas.
Kurds make up between 10 and 25 percent of Turkey’s population.
Tensions have been on the rise between the Turkish government and PKK militants since Ankara launched its operations against their positions in southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq.
PKK militants, who accuse the Turkish government of supporting the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, have also engaged in a series of attacks against Turkish police and security forces.