Arab foreign ministers on Saturday condemned Turkey's "aggression" in Syria where it is pressing an offensive against Kurdish forces, calling for an immediate withdrawal of Ankara's troops.
The statement came after an emergency session of the Arab League in Cairo called for by Egypt to discuss Turkey's assault on the Kurds, who have carved out a fragile semi-autonomy in Syria's northeast. The deadly offensive launched Wednesday has sparked broad international condemnation and threats of sanctions. Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit slammed the Turkish attack as an "invasion of Arab land".
The ministers called for "ending the aggression and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Turkey from all of Syria's land", the statement said. The group said Ankara's offensive was a "direct threat to Arab national security", adding they would consider "urgent measures to confront the Turkish aggression."
The potential responses included diplomatic and economic actions, as well as "military cooperation to confront the Turkish aggression", the statement said.
The foreign ministers of Iraq and Lebanon also called for Syria's Arab League membership to be unfrozen. Damascus has been suspended from the pan-Arab bloc since 2011 over its bloody crackdown on protestors. The Kurds served as the main ground partner in the US-led fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, where they overran the last scrap of the jihadists' "caliphate" in March. Turkey says the main Kurdish militia in Syria is a "terrorist" group with links to its own Kurdish insurgency.
Turkey’s military said it captured a key Syrian border town under heavy bombardment Saturday as its offensive against Kurdish fighters pressed into its fourth day with little sign of relenting despite mounting international criticism. Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry and a war monitor group, marking the most significant gain since the invasion began Wednesday.
The ministry tweeted: “Ras al-Ayn’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates” river. Ankara's military campaign appeared almost inevitable after President Donald Trump announced Sunday that US troops deployed in northern Syria were pulling back from the border.
(With AP inputs)