Turkey's New Syrian Offensive Divides Global Community
17:55 22.01.2018(updated 19:36 22.01.2018)
The recently launched Turkish military operation against Kurdish militia forces entrenched in the Afrin district of Syria has already left dozens killed and wounded on both sides, according to various sources. The global community is looking upon the new crisis from a number of different perspectives.
Russia: Syria's Sovereignty Above All
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia is paying close attention to the Turkish military operation in Afrin, adding that Moscow maintains communications with both Ankara and Damascus on the matter.
"We still believe that the principle of preserving Syria's territorial integrity is fundamental. Of course, we are closely monitoring the humanitarian aspects that are connected with what is happening now in the Afrin district," Peskov told media.
United States and United Kingdom: Turkey's Concerns Are Legitimate
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis noted that Turkey has "legitimate security concerns," adding that it is the only NATO member currently dealing with an armed insurgency within its borders.
"Turkey was candid. They warned us before they launched the aircraft they were going to do it, in consultation with us. And we are working now on the way ahead. We'll work this out," he said.
Earlier, however, a senior official from the US Department of State stated this Turkish offensive does not serve the interests of Ankara or the region as a whole.
"We do not believe that a military operation… in the north and northeast Syria serves the cause of regional stability, Syrian stability, or indeed Turkish concerns about the security of their border," the official said.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said that London recognizes Turkey's "legitimate interest in the security of its borders," adding that Britain now seeks the cessation of violence in Syria the wake of Turkey's operation.
"The UK is committed to working closely with Turkey and other allies to find solutions that provide stability, refrain from escalating the situation and protect Turkey's security interests," the spokesman explained.
Iran and Egypt: The 'Disruption' of Peace Process Needs to End
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also urged Turkey to respect Syria's territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and to remain committed to the political resolution of the Syrian crisis.
"Iran hopes that this operation will be ended immediately to prevent a deepening of the crisis in the border regions of Turkey and Syria. A continued crisis in Afrin may boost…terrorist groups in northern Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has described the Turkish military operation as a "disruption" in the political settlement of the Syrian crisis, adding that Cairo strongly opposes a military solution to the Syrian crisis.
"The Arab Republic of Egypt expresses its rejection of the military operation carried out by the Turkish troops against the town of Afrin in northwestern Syria, and considers the operation as yet another violation of Syria's sovereignty and the disruption of efforts within the framework of the existing political decisions and efforts to struggle against terrorism in Syria," a statement issued by the foreign ministry said.
France: UNSC to the Rescue!
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has declared that Paris demands an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the matter, and that all parties involved in the ongoing hostilities should cease fire and allow humanitarian access to the area.
Following the talks between Le Drian and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, the French government urged Turkey to exercise restraint.
"France is attentive to the security of Turkey, its territory and borders. Paris calls on the Turkish authorities to exercise restraint in the complicated context of a humanitarian situation in several Syrian regions, in view of the military activities of Damascus and its allies," the statement issued following the meeting read.
On Saturday, January 20 Turkish forces began a military operation against the Kurdish forces in Syria's northwestern Afrin district. The operation, codenamed Olive Branch, started at 14:00 GMT with 72 Turkish warplanes conducting airstrikes in the area.
On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the start of the ground operation in the region, adding that a 30-kilometer safe zone would be created during the operation of the Turkish military.
According to Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, by conducting this offensive Ankara is exercising its "right to self-defense in line with international law", and its goal is to destroy all "terrorist corridors" used by Kurdish militias affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party which is branded as a terrorist organization by Turkey.
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