BRUSSELS: The European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said Monday she was “extremely worried” by Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia targets in Syria, saying she would seek urgent talks with Turkish officials.
“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 Erdogan vowing there would be no stepping back in the campaign launched on Saturday.
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 insurgency 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.