October 9, 2019 / 4:26 PM / 5 days ago

Arab League to hold emergency meeting over Turkish offensive into Syria

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday, it said in a statement, following a call by Egypt for the body to meet over Turkey’s offensive into Syria.

Egypt’s foreign ministry, in a statement on Wednesday, “condemned in the strongest terms the Turkish aggression on Syrian territory,” saying the offensive “represents a blatant and unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of a brotherly Arab state.”

Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria on Wednesday just days after U.S. troops pulled back from the area.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the aim was to eliminate what he called a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border, but European countries called on Ankara to halt the operation.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed the Turkish offensive with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih in a phone call on Wednesday, Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Rady said, according to state-run Akhbar Elyom.

“The Turkish aggression ... represents a dangerous development that threatens international peace and security and exacerbates the crisis situation in the region,” Rady said.

Turkey had been poised to enter northeast Syria since U.S. troops, who have been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against Islamic State, started to leave in an abrupt policy shift by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Egyptian foreign ministry, in its statement, “warned of the repercussions of the Turkish move on the unity and territorial integrity of Syria”.

The Arab League, which groups 22 states including Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, said in a statement on Wednesday that Saturday’s meeting would be at the ministerial level “to discuss the Turkish aggression” on Syrian territory.

“It constitutes an unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of an Arab member state of the League,” Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki said.

Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Mohamed Hendawy; writing by Yousef Saba; editing by Giles Elgood and Richard Pullin

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