PM’s ‘deep concern’ over Turkish offensive

 

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison today criticised Turkey's "quite serious" attacks on Kurdish civilians in Syria and threatened joint action against the invaders.

But he absolved US President Donald Trump of responsibility for the military action.

"We are deeply concerned about the actions of the Turkish government," Mr Morrison told reporters today.

The Prime Minister said Australia and the United States would work with others on "any potential response is to that quite serious situation on the ground".

He declined to join criticism of President Trump's withdrawal of US forces in the area, which cleared the way for the Turkish strikes on its long-time enemies among the Kurds in what is being depicted as an invasion.

 

While President Trump has faced criticism for withdrawing from the area, Mr Morrison has backed the US President’s decision. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.
While President Trump has faced criticism for withdrawing from the area, Mr Morrison has backed the US President’s decision. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.

 

Some fellow Republicans have accused Mr Trump of abandoning Kurdish allies who had been in the front line of the fight against the Islamic State.

Mr Morrison focused on the aggressor, not the US policy.

"It is the Turkish government that's doing that, and it's the actions of the Turkish government that concern Australia very seriously," the Prime Minister told reporters today.

Mr Morrison said the US troop withdrawal had been foreshadowed by Mr Trump.

"The decision of the United States is a matter for them," he said.

"It's a sovereign decision of the United States. It's not for me to run a commentary."

Echoing Mr Trump, Mr Morrison said America had been "doing the lion's share of the lifting when it has come to the efforts in the Middle East".

"And, as I said yesterday, it's just a simple statement of fact, not a statement of commentary, that this decision is consistent with statements that the President has been making for some time," Mr Morrison said.

Turkey has begun its attack on northeastern Syria, launching a large scale air strike and ground offensive against Kurdish targets in the region.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been in direct contact with the Turkish and United States governments overnight and on Thursday morning to express his "deep concern" about the actions.

Asked whether military strikes against the Kurds could ultimately lead to Islamic State retaking territory it was driven from seven months ago, he said that was exactly the concern.

"And that is a concern that has been expressed by Australia and by many others," he told reporters in Sydney.

"That is what we have expressed directly to our partners and our allies and certainly to the Turkish government."

He is also worried about the safety of people in the area and what the invasion could mean for the Kurdish people.

"We will be working through all diplomatic channels, working with our colleagues, whether in Europe or the United States or elsewhere … to closely monitor these developments, get some clear understanding of the situation on the ground, and consider what possible international responses there are to these issues."

Senior federal government minister Greg Hunt was careful not to comment on whether the Turkish offensive into Syria could spawn a potential return of the so-called Islamic State.

"We have deep and profound concerns," Mr Hunt told ABC Radio on Thursday.

The US president has been accused of leaving Kurdish allies exposed to attacks from Turkish forces, who consider them terrorists.

 

 

But Mr Morrison insists the American action doesn't amount to a betrayal or lead him to question its trustworthiness as an ally.

- with AAP