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France, Italy summon Turkish ambassadors over Ankara's offensive in Syria

French President Macron and Turkish President Erdogan at a summit in Istanbul in 2018. [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2019

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Turkey's military operation has led to widespsead international condemnation, and there is growing concern over the humanitarian crisis the offensive could create in norther Syria.

France and Italy summoned their respective Turkish ambassadors over Ankara's ongoing military campaign in northern Syria on Thursday, AFP has reported.

Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio called for an end to Turkey's unilateral action in Syria - against the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - saying that a sustainable and peaceful solution could only be reached through the United Nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Turkey to end its operation as quickly as possible, saying Ankara was putting "millions of people at humanitarian risk".

He added that the SDF is "responsible in front of the international community for helping [the Islamic State group] in build its Caliphate".

Read also: Five killed, including baby, following suspected Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns

Turkey's offensive has sparked international outrage, raising fears of a new humanitarian crisis in the region and concerns that thousands of militants from the Islamic State group could use the offensive as an opportunity to escape.

The operation has so far focused on the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ain, and President Erdogan has said that 109 "militants" have been killed.

Turkey has suffered casualties of its own, when five people - including one baby - were killed in suspected Kurdish shelling in the Turkish towns of Akcakale and Ceylanpinar.

Dubbed "Operation Spring of Peace", Ankara's offensive in northern Syria began Thursday with the aim of creating a 150km long and 25km deep "safe zone" on the other side of the Turkish border, currently occupied by the SDF.

This would provide Turkey with a buffer zone and allow for the repatriation of the country's 3 million Syrian refugees, Ankara claims.

Turkish bombing has hit towns in northern Syria, while a ground offensive by Ankara's proxy forces have so far seen a number of Syrian border villages captured.

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