World governments reacted with concern after Turkey launched a military offensive on Kurdish forces in northern Syria, while the UN Security Council plans to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the assault. Here are some of the initial comments following the start of the attack, called “Operation Peace Spring”.
Nato, UN: ‘Act with restraint’
Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey, also a Nato to show “restraint”, while acknowledging that Ankara had “legitimate security concerns”. The UN Security Council’s president, South African ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila, also appealed to Turkey to “protect civilians” and exercise “maximum restraint”.
Trump: ‘Bad idea’
US President Donald Trump called the incursion into northern Syria a “bad idea”. He insisted Washington “does not endorse this attack”, despite having withdrawn US troops from the area in what was interpreted as a green light for Turkey to assault Kurdish militias previously allied with America.
Russia: ‘Think carefully’ -
Ahead of the launch of the offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “think carefully” before taking any action “so as not to harm overall efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday said that Ankara and Damascus should discuss the issue of Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria directly, calling Turkey’s cross-border assault a product of US policies.
EU: No funding for ‘safe zone’
EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker demanded a halt to the operation, telling Ankara the bloc would not pay for any so-called “safe zone” that might be created. He told the European Parliament he recognised Turkey had “security concerns” along the border. But he warned that the military action would not lead to a “good result”.
Germany: ‘Risk of resurgent IS’
Turkey “is willingly risking further destabilising the region and a resurgence of IS” (Islamic State) by attacking northeastern Syria, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. Iraqi President Barham Saleh warned that Turkey’s offensive would cause humanitarian suffering and “strengthen terrorist groups”.
France: Assault ‘must stop’
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the assault against the Kurdish forces that led the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria “must stop” saying offensive risks undermining Europeans’ security. France’s foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Paris to protest the offensive against Kurds in Syria.
UK: ‘Risks destabilising the region’
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed “serious concerns about the unilateral military action that Turkey has taken”. The action “risks destabilising the region, exacerbating humanitarian suffering, and undermining the progress made against Daesh which should be our collective focus,” he added in a statement.
Already struggling population
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was “deeply concerned that any escalation in the country’s north-east could harm an already struggling population,” stressing that “the humanitarian space” needs to be preserved”.
China: ‘Respect’ Syria’s sovereignty
China said that Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity “must be respected”. “China always believes that Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity must be respected and upheld,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press conference yesterday.