WASHINGTON — A top European Union official called on Turkey to halt its military operation in northern Syria Wednesday, not long after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the military operation had started.
The European Union official warned that the EU will not be paying to help Ankara set up any safe zone there.
Erdogan said on his official Twitter account Wednesday that the operation, named “Peace Spring,” has begun. He said the operation aims to eradicate “the threat of terror” against Turkey.
Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish jets had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border from Turkey.
Speaking to EU lawmakers Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I call on Turkey as well as on the other actors to act with restraint and to stop operations already, as we are speaking, underway.”
While acknowledging that Turkey has security concerns on its border with Syria, Juncker says that “if the Turkish plan involves the creation of a so-called safe zone, don’t expect the European Union to pay for any of it.”
The EU is paying Turkey 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) to help the country cope with almost 4 million Syrian refugees on its territory in exchange for stopping migrants leaving for Europe. But Ankara is seeking more money amid concerns that thousands of Syrians could soon cross its border.
Turkey had long threatened an attack on the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers to terrorists and an extention of
Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from Syria and hand control to Turkey.