The European Union on Monday condemned Turkey’s operation in northeastern Syria as a direct threat to the security and stability of the region.
“The EU condemns Turkey’s military action which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region,” the bloc said in a joint statement at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
“Member states commit to strong national positions regarding their arms export policy to Turkey,” added EU foreign ministers.
The Turkish operation increases the suffering of Syrian civilians and hinders the delivery of aid, the statement added, saying that the offensive decreases the chance of a successful political settlement to the war in Syria.
The European Council, the grouping of the EU’s 28 governments, said in a statement that Turkey’s military action in northern Syria had “dramatic consequences” and noted that some EU countries had halted arms exports.
The organization also agreed a sanctions framework over Turkey’s drilling for oil and gas in waters off Cyprus, action it condemns.
On Monday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg similarly criticized Turkey's military operation, saying that it risked further escalation in the region. Turkey is a NATO member.
As Turkish forces continued their assault on positions held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria, Syrian government forces have deployed to the towns of Ain Issa and Tabqa in northern Syria, state media and the Syrian Observatory reported on Monday.
Czech Republic halts arms exports licenses to Turkey
The Czech Republic joined other European Union countries on Monday in halting weapons and ammunition sales to Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said on his Twitter account.
“The Czech Republic with immediate effect suspends export licenses for military equipment to Turkey,” Hamacek said.
EU governments had earlier on Monday agreed to limit arms exports to Turkey, stopping short of a bloc-wide embargo on a NATO ally.
France and Germany decided over the weekend to suspend sales while Italy also said it would join a ban.
France’s Le Drian: Turkish offensive could undermine fight against ISIS
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that the Turkish offensive in Syria could undermine years of battling the ISIS militant group.
“It’s a very serious issue. First of all because this Turkish operation in North-Eastern Syria could undermine five years of battling the ISIS. The ISIS is not dead,” Le Drian told Le Figaro newspaper.