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France, Britain, Germany to condemn Turkish offensive in Syria

PARIS (Reuters) - France, Britain and Germany are set to issue a statement strongly condemning Turkey’s offensive in northeastern Syria, France’s European affairs minister said on Wednesday.

Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria on Wednesday just days after U.S. troops pulled back from the area, with air strikes and artillery hitting YPG militia positions around the border town of Ras al Ain.

The move comes after a U.S. decision to withdraw from the region leaving Turkey to launch an offensive against Kurdish militants and rattling allies, including France, one of Washington’s main partners in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

“France, Germany and Britain are finalizing a joint statement that will be extremely clear on the fact that we condemn very strongly and firmly what has been reported,” Amelie de Montchalin told parliament’s foreign affairs committee answering a question on the Turkish offensive.

Capitals were still deciding at what level the statement would be issued, a diplomatic source said.

She added that a separate European Union statement from the bloc’s 28 states had yet to be agreed because some countries had not signed up to it. One source said Hungary had blocked the statement.

The three European states were also considering whether to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council, Montchalin said, although a diplomatic source cautioned that nothing had been decided yet.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas