ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A European Union spokesperson told Kurdistan 24 in a statement on Monday that the body has serious concerns that a Turkish invasion in northeastern Syria would lead to significant civilian suffering and mass displacement.
Although the EU stated that it recognizes Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns,” it also has “said from the very beginning that any sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict will not be reached through military means but requires a genuine political transition.”
Late on Sunday, the White House issued a summary of a telephone call that US President Donald Trump held with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier that day which explained that Turkey was about to attack in northeastern Syria and that US forces would withdraw from the area where the Turkish military operation is to take place.
The White House said that “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”
Monday's EU statement warned that “renewed armed hostilities in north-eastern Syria will not only exacerbate civilian suffering and lead to massive displacement but would also risk severely undermining current political efforts.”
Also on Monday, France cautioned Turkey against "any initiative" threatening the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
A Dutch lawmaker from the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Martijn van Helvert, told Kurdistan 24 that Europe must put pressure on Turkey to prevent a further invasion of Syria.
“This signal must be strongly emphasized by all EU member states. We cannot allow Turkey to invade neighboring countries,” he said, adding, “The EU has no military force: the EU has diplomatic and economic power. This only works if the member states are unanimous.”
Van Helvert warned that a unilateral withdrawal of the US will “have very serious consequences for the Kurds in the short term.”
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) currently hold thousands of foreigners accused of membership in the Islamic State who could potentially take advantage of a Turkish incursion to escape and regroup, senior SDF officials have warned.
The Dutch lawmaker said a Turkish invasion could feel like a “warm hand on the back for ISIS fighters who can now find protection in Turkey.”
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) in a statement on Monday warned of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” and called on the international community to prevent the Turkish attack.
Washington SDC representative Sinam Mohammed wrote in a tweet that it would be a “disaster to allow Turkey [to] invade Northeast Syria, threatening its 5 million inhabitants. We will be facing a grave humanitarian disaster if the Senate does not make a resolution to stop it. Don’t allow a repeat of the Turkish invasion of Afrin.”
The EU says it has urged and continues to urge the Astana guarantors, which include Turkey, to ensure a cessation of hostilities, the protection of civilians, and unhindered, safe, and sustainable humanitarian access throughout all of Syria.
EU Foreign Ministers will meet next week in Luxembourg and the situation in Syria is expected to be on the agenda for discussion.
Editing by John J. Catherine