The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Jan. 20 summoned Russia and the U.S.’s top Ankara-based diplomats to inform them about the ongoing military operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province.
Turkey has also summoned the Iranian ambassador to Ankara, a ministry official told Hürriyet Daily News, speaking on conditions of anonymity.
Ambassadors from the three remaining permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, France and China – will also be summoned, with Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Kaan Esener set to conduct the talks, the source said.
Syrian regime notified on operation: Turkey
Turkey is notifying the Syrian regime about the Afrin operation through letters, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 20 in a televised interview with T24.
Turkey had to reach out to Syria, a U.N. member, even if only through letters, Çavuşoğlu said in another interview with broadcaster NTV on the same day.
Despite these “diplomatic efforts,” Syria has roundly condemned the military operation.
“The Syrian Arab Republic decisively condemns Turkish aggression against the town of Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syria,” a statement released by the Syrian regime said, as quoted by the SANA news agency.
With diplomatic channels unusually busy following the announcement of the Turkish military operation dubbed “Olive Branch” by the Turkish army, a Turkish foreign ministry official on Jan. 20 said Çavuşoğlu had held talks with U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson in the wake of the announcement at Washington’s request, Agence France-Presse reported.
Meanwhile Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov has spoken on the phone with his U.S. counterpart General Joseph Dunford following Turkey’s military engagement in Syria, Sputnik reported.
France calls for ‘urgent’ UN Security Council meeting
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has also spoken with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Jan. 21 on the phone to inform him about Turkey’s military engagements in Syria’s Afrin, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Meanwhile, France on Jan. 21 has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over Syria following a Turkish incursion into northern Syria’s Afrin province, Reuters reported, citing French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin – France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter feed. He added that he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on Jan. 21 morning.
“France is very preoccupied by the situation in Syria and by the brutal degradation of the situation,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“This is why we have called for a Security Council meeting to evaluate all the humanitarian risks, which are very serious,” he said speaking in Algiers on the sidelines of a meeting for western Mediterranean countries.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly on Jan. 21 pressed Turkey to stop its offensive against Kurdish militants fighting in Syria, saying the militants were a key ally against terrorism in the war-torn country, Agence-France Presse reported.
“This fighting… must stop,” Parly told France 3 television, adding that the Turkish offensive could “deter Kurdish forces who are at the side” of the international coalition battling jihadists in Syria.
NATO makes first statement following operation
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg has been in regular communication with the Turkish authorities, a NATO source told daily Hürriyet on Jan. 21, adding that Turkey has informed NATO countries on the operation.
Stressing that NATO forces are not present on the ground in Syria, the source said that ‘all countries have the right to self-defense, but it’s important that this is done in a proportionate and measured way.’
Communication with regional envoys
The Turkish Foreign Ministry is keeping ambassadors from several countries in the region informed about the operation, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.
The ambassadors of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also been invited to the ministry where Turkish ambassador Sedat Önal will brief them on the operation, the source said.
The Turkish military launched a major crossborder air operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province on Jan. 20.
The air operation came shortly before the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – a militant group formed of Turkey-backed rebels – launched a comprehensive ground operation against the YPG in Afrin with the support of Turkish tanks and cross-border artillery fire.