I share your concerns about Turkey’s unilateral military action in Northern Syria. From the outset, the UK Government has warned Turkey against taking this military action. This intervention risked destabilising the region, exacerbating humanitarian suffering, and undermining the progress made against Daesh.
It is welcome that the ceasefire in Northern Syria continues to broadly hold, and Turkey has confirmed it has no plans for a further offensive. Implementation of the ceasefire is for the parties directly involved but I would urge the new Government to encourage all parties to make the ceasefire permanent and fulfil their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.
It is only right that as we condemn this military intervention, we also recognise some of the legitimate concerns that Turkey has in relation to the 3.6 million refugees it has taken from Syria. Turkey also has concerns around the security threat posed by the PKK at its southern border with Syria. For decades, Turkey has been a staunch ally in NATO and one of the largest contributors of military personnel. But with close partners, the UK must at times be candid and clear. This is not behaviour expected from an ally. It is reckless, it is counterproductive, and it plays straight into the hands of Russia and the Assad regime.
I will continue to support Ministers’ efforts to call on Turkey to exercise maximum restraint and to abide by the ceasefire.