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India slams Turkey for its 'unilateral military offensive' in Syria

Turkey's actions could undermine the fight against terrorism, the external affairs ministry has said

By The Telegraph and Agencies in New Delhi
  • Published 10.10.19, 4:46 PM
  • Updated 10.10.19, 4:46 PM
  • a min read
  •  
Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 AP Photo

India has said it is "deeply concerned" over the "unilateral military offensive" by Turkey in northeastern Syria and asserted that the action can undermine stability in the region as well as the fight against terrorism.

On Wednesday, Turkish jets and artillery targeted Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. On Thursday, Turkish ground forces pressed their advance, Turkey's defence ministry said, but Kurds and Syrian activists said that despite the barrage, Turkish troops had not made much progress on several fronts.

Reacting to the developments, India's Ministry of External Affairs said: "We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria." Turkey's actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism, it said.

The action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress, the MEA said in a statement on Thursday, October 10, 2019.

"We call upon Turkey to exercise restraint and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We urge the peaceful settlement of all issues through dialogue and discussion," the MEA said.

The Turkish invasion, now in its second day, has been widely condemned around the world. In northern Syria, residents of the border areas scrambled in panic on Wednesday as they tried to get out on foot, in cars and with rickshaws piled with mattresses and a few belongings. 

It was a wrenchingly familiar scenario for the many who, only a few years ago, had fled the advances on their towns and villages by the Islamic State group.

Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. Expectations of an invasion increased after US President Donald Trump's abrupt decision on Sunday to essentially abandon the Syrian Kurdish fighters, leaving them vulnerable to a Turkish offensive.

The Kurds, who have been America's only allies in Syria fighting the Islamic State group, stopped on Thursday all their operations against the IS extremists in order to focus on fighting advancing Turkish troops, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

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