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EU ‘extremely worried’ over Turkey’s offensive in Syria

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The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, on Monday said she was “extremely worried” by Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia targets in Syria, saying she would seek urgent talks with Turkish officials, Agence France-Presse reported.

“I’m extremely worried and will discuss this among other things with our Turkish interlocutors,” Mogherini said after a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers where the issue was raised, adding that she was concerned about the impact on civilians and on the UN-backed Syrian peace process.

Ankara on Monday intensified its offensive to oust the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from their enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowing there would be no retreat from the campaign launched on Saturday.

The Turkish Armed Forces backed by armored vehicles, special forces and infantry regiments have advanced five kilometers (three miles) inside Afrin.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a terror group and the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody three-decade war against the Turkish state.
Mogherini said she was worried “for two main reasons.”

“One side is the humanitarian one — we need to make sure that humanitarian access is guaranteed and that civilian population and people are not suffering from military activities on the ground,” she said.

The second issue, Mogherini said, was that the offensive “can undermine seriously the resumption of talks in Geneva, which is what we believe could really bring sustainable peace and security for Syria.”

Mogherini said she hoped to set up a meeting with Turkey’s European affairs minister, Omer Celik, when he visits Brussels “in the coming days.”

France has called for a UN Security Council meeting Monday to discuss concerns over flashpoint areas in Syria including the Turkish offensive.

“If France or any other country takes this issue [the Afrin operation] to the UN, for us, it will be positioned beside not us but beside a terrorist organization. And it will be treated by us accordingly,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in Baghdad.

“We expect France to support us in such cases. We don’t want them to side with a terrorist organization,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Erdoğan-family-owned Sabah daily has called Mogherini a “terrorist lover” for her statement of concern over the Turkish military offensive in Syria.

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