European countries condemn Turkey operation in Syria, as thousands civilians flee

European countries condemn Turkey operation in Syria, as thousands civilians flee
European countries have condemned Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish militants in northern Syria as thousands of civilians fled the onslaught.
2 min read
09 October, 2019
Turkish airstrikes hit the city of Tal Abyad today [Getty]

European countries condemned a Turkish operation against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria on Wednesday as thousands of civilians fled the city of Ras al-Ayn in northern Syria and two civilians were killed in Turkish airstrikes.

French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said that France "strongly condemns" the Turkish offensive - which Turkey has called "Operation Peace Spring" - adding that France, Germany, and the UK were working on a joint declaration condemning their NATO ally.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the Turkish operation threatened the stability of the region, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Turkey "is willingly risking further destabilising the region and a resurgence of IS [ISIL]" by attacking northeastern Syria.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged Turkey to halt its operation, adding that the EU would not pay for any Turkish safe zone in Syria. In previous statements Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a safe zone could be set up in northern Syria to resettle three million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

Read more: Turkey’s three-stage plan to capture northern Syria from Kurdish militias

In the US, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has recently criticized President Trump’s "isolationist" foreign policy, vowed to make Erdogan pay a "heavy price" for the Turkish assault.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the Turkish operation on Thursday.

The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah said that the operation would be similar in size to Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus, when Turkey captured 40 percent of the island country following years of hostility between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The Turkish Anadolu news agency said that six missiles launched from the Syrian city of Qamishli had landed in the Turkish border town of Nusaybin. There were no details on casualties or damage.