Anwar Gargash condemns Turkey's Syria assault that 'will certainly result in a humanitarian crisis'

'Thousands of innocent civilians [will] flee for safety and security away from the killings', the UAE minister told the Arab League

epa07915199 Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (L) speaks with Anwar Mohammed Gargash (R), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State for Foreign Affairs,as they attend an Arab League states' foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss Syria situation, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, 12 October 2019. Turkey has launched an offensive targeting Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria, days after the US withdrew troops from the area.  EPA/Mohamed Hossam
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UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash called on Turkey to withdraw forces from Syria as the Arab League emergency meeting ended with a statement condemning Ankara for its latest offensive.

Ankara's offensive is a "direct threat to Arab national security", the bloc said in a statement issued after an emergency meeting of foreign ministers at its headquarters in Cairo.

Last week, Turkey launched an offensive into northeast Syria saying it is battling terrorists. However, the area is under control of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces — a multi-ethnic force led by Syrian Kurdish groups who have been battling ISIS.

The statement called for "ending the aggression and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Turkey from all of Syria's land".

"From the very beginning, this aggression led to the killing of innocent people and will certainly result in a humanitarian crisis with thousands of innocent civilians fleeing for safety and security away from the killings," Dr Gargash said.

He added that the minimum action that Arab countries should take is to adopt a firm response to aggression against any Arab country that is seen as aggression against the national security of all Arab states.

He said the Turkish assault on northeast Syria represents “a flagrant aggression against the sovereignty of a fellow Arab country and an exploitation of the conditions that country is currently facing in contravention of all relevant international laws and norms and in a bid to destabilise the region.”

He expressed the UAE's utmost condemnation of Turkish aggression in Syria as unacceptable.

"The UAE considers it necessary to play an active Arab role in Syria and to be spurred by this aggression to take necessary measures to confront any incursions against Arab territories," Dr Gargash said.

A number of civilians have already been killed in the Turkish assault and there are reports from a human rights monitor that pro-Ankara fighters executed nine civilians including a female politician.

“The nine civilians were executed at different moments south of the town of Tal Abyad,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK based war monitor, said.

Kurdish forces named the politician as Hevrin Khalaf and said her driver was also among those killed on Saturday.

Khalaf, 35, was "taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions", the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said. "This is clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians."

Dr Gargash said the stated objective of the Turkish incursion into Syria to fight terrorism was suspicious as the action “will only lead to the strengthening of terrorists' capabilities”, saying that ISIS may take advantage of the chaos to stage a resurgence.

Kurdish forces have tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and supporters in detention camps and prisons across the area of northeast Syria. With Kurdish forces saying they have pulled fighters back from guarding the camps to fight Turkey, they say at least five ISIS prisoners have escaped and reports suggest more may have broken out.