Turkey has launched a military operation against Kurdish positions in northeast Syria, just days after US troops pulled out of the area.
Ankara says the offensive – which began with air raids on Tuesday – is aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” where millions of Syrian refugees can be resettled.
- Look: Turkey’s operation in Syria
- Two notorious ISIL fighters taken into US custody
- What is happening at the Syria-Turkey border?
World leaders and organisations issued statements on the offensive, here are some of the reactions:
The United Nations
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said any military operation must fully respect the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.
Spokesman Farhan Haq said: “Civilians and civilian infrastructure should be protected. The secretary-general believes that there’s no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”
The UN Security Council’s president, South African ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila, also appealed to Turkey to “protect civilians” and exercise “maximum restraint”.
EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker demanded Turkey to halt its military operation, telling Ankara the bloc would not pay for any so-called “safe zone” that might be created.
The EU’s top foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini warned that “unilateral action on Turkey’s part threatens” concerted action by the West and Turkey and other countries to defeat ISIL.
Turkish military action, she said, risked “protracted instability in northeast Syria, providing fertile ground for the resurgence of Daesh”.
Keeping captured ISIL fighters in Syria secure is “imperative in order to prevent them from joining the ranks of terrorist groups,” she added.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey to show “restraint”, while acknowledging that Ankara had “legitimate security concerns”.
“It’s important to avoid actions that may further destabilise the region, escalate tensions, and cause more human suffering,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Rome.
“I count on Turkey to act with restraint and to ensure that any action it may take in northern Syria is proportionate and measured.”
Hossam Zaki, deputy secretary-general of the Arab League said that foreign ministers from around the region will be meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss Turkey’s military operation.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, head of the pan-Arab organisation said that Turkey’s incursion is a “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and threatens Syria’s integrity”.
He added that Turkey’s incursion also threatens to inflame further conflicts in eastern and northern Syria, and “could allow for the revival” of ISIL.
Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned the offensive as “a blatant and unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of a brotherly Arab state”. It called for an emergency meeting of the League of Arab States.
Saudi Arabia said the offensive would undermine the region’s security and the battle against ISIL.
The Turkish army’s “aggression” would have “negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region”, the foreign ministry said on Twitter.
It would also “undermine international efforts to fight the Islamic State terrorist group”.
#KSA pointed out that the seriousness of this aggression on northeastern Syria has negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region, especially undermining the int'l efforts in combating ISIS organization.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) October 9, 2019
Iran called for an immediate halt to Turkey’s offensive on Kurdish-ruled northeastern Syria, citing concern for the dangers to civilians in the conflict zone.
“Iran… emphasises (the need for) an immediate halt to the assault and the departure of Turkish military units from Syrian territory,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey’s plans, calling it a “blatant violation” of international law and vowing to repel an incursion.
Iraqi President Barham Salih called Turkey’s “incursion” a “grave escalation” on Twitter.
“[It] will cause untold humanitarian suffering, empower terrorist groups. The world must unite to avert a catastrophe, promote political resolution to the rights of all Syrians, including Kurds, to peace, dignity and security,” Salih said.
In a statement, the UAE foreign ministry said that the aggression represents a dangerous development and a blatant and unacceptable aggression against the sovereignty of an Arab state in contravention of the rules of international law.
The Bahrain foreign ministry condemned the offensive according to state news agency BNA.
The statement said Bahrain supports the call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council to take a unified Arab stand towards the aggression.
Kuwait said on Wednesday that the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria is a direct threat to stability and peace in the region and called for restraint, the state news agency reported.
“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
“Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place – and we will hold them to this commitment.”
Before the launch of the offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Erdogan to “think carefully” before taking any action.
“Putin called on his Turkish partners to think carefully about the situation so as not to harm overall efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis,” the presidency said following a phone call between the two leaders.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement he had “serious concerns about the unilateral military action that Turkey has taken”.
“This risks destabilising the region, exacerbating humanitarian suffering, and undermining the progress made against Daesh which should be our collective focus.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Turkey’s operation would lead to further destabilisation of the region and could strengthen ISIL. He urged Turkey to end the operation.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on his Twitter feed that the operation “is jeopardising the anti-Islamic State coalition’s security and humanitarian efforts and is a risk for the security of Europeans. It has to end.”
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that the Turkish offensive is dangerous and should stop.
“[It is] dangerous for the security of the Kurds. Dangerous because it benefits Islamic State, which we have been fighting for five years. It must stop,” Parly wrote on Twitter.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the operation risked destabilising the region and harming civilians
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the operation was “unacceptable” and called for an immediate end to the fighting.
“As a government we think that the Turkish offensive initiative is unacceptable. We condemn it … because military action in the past has always led to more terrorism,” Di Maio, who is head of the co-ruling 5-Star Movement, said on the sidelines of a conference in Rome.
“We call for an immediate end to this offensive which is absolutely not acceptable given that the use of force continues to endanger the life of the Syrian people, who have already experienced tragedy in recent years,” he said.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said he has summoned the Turkish ambassador.
“I call on Turkey not to follow the path it has chosen,” Blok said on Twitter. “No one can benefit from the potentially terrible humanitarian consequences. The operation can trigger new refugee flows and harm the fight against IS and stability in the region.”
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted: “Deeply concerned about Turkish military operation in Syria.
In my view, this is a regrettable and wrong decision, which can have serious consequences for civilians and the fight against ISIL. Turkey must show restraint. Denmark is in close contact with allies on the matter.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he had been in contact with the governments of Turkey and the US and was worried about the situation, and the risk of further instability in the area.
“We are very concerned about what this could potentially mean for the Kurdish people,” Morrison said. “We’re concerned about what this could mean for the potential for the resurgence of Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.