U.S., France Urge Turkey to Show Restraint in Syria Offensive

(Reuters) -
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan chairs a security meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Tuesday. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via (REUTERS)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged Turkey on Tuesday to exercise restraint in its military operations in northern Syria, which he said had disrupted the peaceful return of refugees and could prove to be an opening for al-Qaida and Islamic State.

“This could be exploited by ISIS and al-Qaida, obviously, that we’re not staying focused on them right now. And obviously it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis that most of Syria is going through,” Sec. Mattis told reporters during a trip to Indonesia.

Sec. Mattis said Afrin had been stabilizing, prior to the Turkish military operation.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also expressed concern on Tuesday about Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria and warned the government to show restraint in its operations against Kurdish forces in the region.

“I had the opportunity to tell my Turkish colleague … that this offensive worries us,” Le Drian told reporters.

“While we understand the concerns Turkey has about border security, we cannot but call on Turkey to show the greatest level of restraint on this issue.”