Israel's Netanyahu slams Turkey's 'invasion' of Syria

Israel's Netanyahu slams Turkey's 'invasion' of Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised Turkey's offensive on Kurdish positions in northern Syria.
2 min read
10 October, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the possibility of ethnic cleansing [Getty]
Israel on Thursday slammed Turkey's "invasion" of Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria and warned against "ethnic cleansing" of the Kurdish people, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

"Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies," the statement said.

"Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people."

Ankara launched a broad offensive in Syria on Wednesday, aimed at pushing back Syrian Kurdish forces considered "terrorists" by Ankara and establishing a "safe zone" with which to repatriate Syrian refugees.

The incursion triggered international condemnation and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was set for Thursday.

Kurdish leaders on Thursday called on European countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Turkey in protest at the move.

A delegation from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) - the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - travelled to Brussels to urge the EU to take concrete measures to punish Turkey.

The EU has urged Turkey to halt the assault but has not taken any action, though the bloc's foreign ministers will discuss the crisis at a regular meeting on Monday.

"We want an urgent intervention on this crisis, and these attacks should be stopped quickly. Air space should be closed for Turkish flights so that air attacks can be stopped," senior SDC figure Ilham Ahmed told reporters in Brussels.

Read also: What happens next? Turkey launches a new offensive in Syria

"All European states should freeze their relations by withdrawing their ambassadors from Turkey immediately."

The SDF, then allied to the United States, played a key role in the fight to eliminate the Islamic State group's "caliphate", but Ankara regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists linked to insurgents inside Turkey. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday warned Brussels against further criticism of the operation, threatening to "open the doors" and send some 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian war that it hosts to Europe.

Erdogan said 109 "terrorists" had been killed so far in the operation, which would soon cover ground from Manbij in northern Syria to the Iraqi border some 350 kilometres (220 miles) east.

Revealed: Turkey's three-stage plan to capture northern Syria from Kurdish militias, lasting into 2020

US President Donald Trump warned that if the Turkish operation was not conducted "in as humane a way as possible", he would "wipe out" the country's economy".

But the assault had seemed inevitable since Trump announced on Sunday a military pullback from the border.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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