On Thursday, the US warned Turkey it faced consequences at the United Nations if its assault against Kurdish militias in northeast Syria did not protect vulnerable populations or contain Islamic State militants.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, speaking after a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Syria, did not specify what those consequences could be.
Ambassador Craft told reporters:
Failure to play by the rules, to protect vulnerable populations, failure to guarantee that ISIS cannot exploit these actions to reconstitute, will have consequences.
Turkey pounded U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in Syria for a second day on Thursday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. The death toll is mounting as Turkish troops fight in close proximity the Kurds in Ras al-Ain.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING
The 15-member Security Council met at the request of Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland. In a joint statement, the European states called on Turkey to stop its military action.
Germany’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jurgen Schulz read the statement, which said:
Renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements.
Turkey launched the offensive days after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled U.S. troops out of Syria. His abrupt policy shift has turned ardent supporters in the GOP Senate into vocal critics.
No western nation sees the benefit of repatriating Syrians to their homeland because they fear Turkey’s Islamist influence. Instead of an autonomous region led by the Kurds, in its place might rise an enclave governed by the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria. Just as Hamas governs Gaza.
Trump denied he had abandoned the Kurdish forces, the most effective U.S. partners in fighting Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. He then made the claim the Kurds did not help the United States during WWII.
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.”
TURKEY PROMISES RESTRAINT
Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu wrote:
The operation will only target terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons vehicles and equipment. All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population.
Turkey justified its action under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defense against armed attack.
The U.N. Security Council is discussing a U.S.-drafted statement, but it appeared unlikely they could reach an agreement. Consensus usually drive such statements.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters, referring to the presence of U.S. troops in Syria:
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.
Reuters contributed to this article.