On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country would soon launch a new military operation in northern Syria, to establish a “safe zone” 30 kilometers deep along its border with its southern neighbor.
On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the United States was “extremely concerned” about the announcement.
“We condemn any escalation, and we support maintaining the current ceasefire lines,” he added.
In New York, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed the international organization’s rejection of any new military action in Syria, whether by Turkey or any other party.
In response to a question about the military operation Erdogan announced his desire to launch in Syria, Dujarric told reporters, “We are defending the territorial integrity of Syria. What Syria needs is not more military operations, whatever their source.”
He added, “What Syria needs is a political solution. What Syria needs is more humanitarian aid, and these are the two things we are working on.”
Since 2016, Turkey has launched three military operations in Syria to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters who allied with the United States in its campaign against ISIS.
Turkey launched its last military operation in Syria in October 2019, when US President Donald Trump announced that his country’s forces had accomplished their mission in Syria and would withdraw from that country.
The Turkish attack on that day sparked great anger in the United States, even among the allies of the Republican president, prompting his deputy, Mike Pence, to visit Turkey, where he concluded an agreement with Erdogan to stop the fighting.
“We expect Turkey to abide by the October 2019 joint statement,” Price said. He added, “We are aware of Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on its southern borders, but any new offensive will further undermine regional stability and endanger the US forces involved in the coalition’s campaign against ISIS.”
The Turkish president’s statements about launching a new offensive in Syria came at a time when he threatened to block Finland and Sweden’s requests to join NATO.
Turkey has long accused the two Scandinavian countries of harboring activists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is banned in Turkey.
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