Turkey is telling the U.N. Security Council that its military offensive into northeast Syria was launched in exercise of its right to self-defense under the U.N. Charter.
In a letter to the council circulated Monday, Turkey said it is countering an “imminent terrorist threat” and ensuring the security of its borders from Syrian Kurds, which it calls “terrorists,” as well as the Islamic State extremist group.
Since 2014, the Kurds have fought alongside the U.S. in defeating the Islamic State in Syria.
The fast-deteriorating situation was set in motion last week, when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered American troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, now in its sixth day. Trump’s move was decried at home and abroad as a betrayal of an ally.
Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu said in the letter to the Security Council dated Oct. 9 that its counter-terrorism operation will be “proportionate, measured and responsible.”
Iran’s president is urging Turkey to halt its military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Hassan Rouhani: “We do not accept the method that they have chosen.” Turkey says it’s fighting to clear border areas of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which it considers to be terrorists because of their links to Kurdish militants in Turkey.
While Iranian authorities have previously expressed opposition to the Turkish offensive, now in its sixth day, this was Rouhani’s first direct comment.
Iran and Russia have allied with the Syrian government in the country’s eight-year war. Syrian troops abandoned the northeast to Syrian Kurdish-led forces in 2012.
The Kurds had allied with the U.S. to fight the Islamic State group. But after American troops moved aside in northern Syria, clearing the way for the attack by Turkey, the Kurds struck a deal with the Syrian government for assistance.