Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Europe Urges Turkey against Incursion in N. Syria

Europe Urges Turkey against Incursion in N. Syria

Monday, 7 October, 2019 - 18:00
A US soldier walks previous a Turkish armored automobile close to the Syrian border. (AP)

France on Monday called on Turkey to avoid any actions that could go against the interests of the anti-ISIS coalition after the United States began pulling troops back from the northeast Syria border.

The statement from the Foreign Ministry Monday warned Turkey's threatened military incursion into northern Syria could "hurt regional stability" and not help with the return of refugees to the area — as Ankara has promised.

It said that extremists detained in northeast Syria, including foreigners, should be tried where their crimes were committed.

European nations have so far resisted US calls to take back ISIS captives who come from their country.

The statement came hours after the White House's announcement it was pulling US troops from northern Syria, clearing the way for an expected Turkish assault against Kurdish fighters who have been key allies in the campaign against the ISIS group. Washington’s move also hands Turkey responsibility for thousands of ISIS captives.

More French fighters joined the extremist group than any other European nationality. France has been reluctant to allow the extremists home, even to face trial.

Germany expressed concerns at the prospect of the Turkish incursion, saying such an intervention could further destabilize Syria.

Ulrike Demmer, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Germany is aware of the "special security policy situation" that Turkey faces on its border. But she cautioned that successes against ISIS, which she noted were achieved in significant part by Syrian Kurdish forces with international support, "must not be endangered."

Demmer stressed that a unilateral military intervention "would lead to a further escalation in Syria and contribute to a continued destabilization of the country." She said it would also have negative security policy and humanitarian consequences.

The European Union called for calm in northern Syria and warns that fresh fighting there is only like to drive more people from their homes.

European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said: “Renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will not only exacerbate civilian suffering and lead to massive displacement but will also risk severely undermining current political efforts.”

Kocijancic said the EU remains committed to Syria' "unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity" and that a long-term solution to the conflict "will not be reached through military means but requires a genuine political transition."

Two International aid groups said a Turkish offensive could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and disrupt humanitarian aid to people in displaced camps, including children.

The International Rescue Committee said it is deeply concerned about the lives of the 2 million residents of northeast Syria who survived the brutal rule of ISIS. It said as many as 300,000 may be immediately displaced by an offensive.

Save the Children revealed more than 1.6 million residents of the area require humanitarian assistance.

Thousands live in displaced people's camps, including more than 9,000 foreign children from 40 different countries who came out from the last territory held by ISIS last March. Save the Children called for moving the children to safety, before any further disruption of services could put their lives of at risk.

Editor Picks