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France, Sweden Push for EU Sanctions Against Turkey

France, Sweden Push for EU Sanctions Against Turkey

Friday, 11 October, 2019 - 10:45
Foreign Minister of Sweden Ann Linde addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

France said Friday that EU sanctions against Turkey over its offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria are "on the table", after European nations failed to convince the UN Security Council to condemn the operation.

"Obviously it's on the table," Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin told France Inter radio, saying potential reprisals over Turkey's incursion into northeast Syria would be debated during a European Council meeting next week.

"Our condemnation is strong but it's not just that... we're going to act," Montchalin said.

"You can imagine that we're not going to stay on our side of the table and say, 'Well you know, we recognize that things are complicated'," she said.

Furthermore, the Swedish parliament decided on Friday that Sweden will push for a European Union weapons embargo against Turkey at an EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Thursday condemned Turkey’s military offensive in northeastern Syria.

“It violates international law, destabilizes the situation, and risks having great humanitarian consequences, not the least for the Kurds. The UN’s security council must immediately address the issue,” she said on Twitter.

Turkey launched artillery and airstrikes Wednesday against Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia after US President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group by pulling out US troops along the Syria-Turkey border.

Ankara considers the YPG, the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces which have led the fight against ISIS with US backing, a terrorist group waging a separatist fight on Turkish territory.

But the claims are not shared by many countries, who hail the key role played by the Kurds in dislodging the Islamic State group from Syria after years of fierce fighting.

They have set up their own institutions in the territory they control in Syria, where they have taken custody of thousands of extremist insurgents, including many foreigners who came to fight.

Turkey announced Friday the first death of one of its soldiers in the operation in northern Syria, while dozens of Kurdish fighters and several civilians have been killed, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the five European members of the Security Council were unable to convince the rest of the 15-state body to adopt a statement telling Turkey to halt the military operations.

France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, and Poland were forced to deliver their statement alone, while the United States issued a separate statement asserting that it did not endorse the Turkish operation.

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