UNSC members urge Turkey to halt its military operation

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 10 (APP): The five European members of the U.N. Security Council Thursday urged Turkey to halt its military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces aimed at eliminating what Ankara calls a “terror corridor” on the country’s southern border.

“We are deeply concerned by the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria,” the countries — France, Germany, Britain, Belgium and Poland — said in a joint statement after an emergency meeting of the 15-member Council.

“We call upon Turkey to cease the unilateral military action as we do not believe it will address Turkey’s underlying security concerns,” they said.

Meanwhile, Turkey told the U.N. Security Council in a letter on Wednesday that its military operation in northern Syria would be “proportionate, measured and responsible.”

“The operation will only target terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons vehicles and equipment,” Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu wrote. “All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population.”

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Turkey justified its action under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defence against armed attack.

In a separate statement, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said that if Turkey does not “protect vulnerable populations” or does not guarantee that the ISIS group “cannot exploit these actions to reconstitute,” there will be consequences.

Craft reiterated U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s assertion that the American government “has not in any way endorsed the decision of the Government of Turkey to mount a military incursion into northeast Syria.”

But Trump did clear the way for the Turkish military operation against the Kurdish forces — who led the fight against ISIS in Syria — by withdrawing American troops from the country’s northern frontier.

“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring that all ISIS fighters in detention in prison, remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute itself in any way, shape, or form,” Craft said.

The U.N. Security Council is discussing a U.S.-drafted statement, but it appeared unlikely they could reach an agreement. Such statements are agreed by consensus.

“It should take into account other aspects of the Syrian crisis not just the Turkish operation. It should speak about the illegal military presence in that country,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters, referring to the presence of U.S. troops in Syria.

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