The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said it was “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s offensive against United States-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

“Turkey’s actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism,” the ministry said in a press release. “Its action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress.”

India urged Turkey to exercise restraint, and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. “We urge the peaceful settlement of all issues through dialogue and discussion,” it added.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched a ground and air assault against Kurdish militia in Syria that has been crucial in the fight against Islamic State terrorist group, days after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw soldiers from the region. However, in the face of strident opposition from his Republican allies in Congress, Trump called the Turkish assault a “bad idea” and said he did not endorse it.

“United States didn’t give Turkey a green light,” said United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He defended Trump’s decision to withdraw soldiers from the border, saying Turkey had a “legitimate security concern” and “a terrorist threat to their south”.

The Turkish operation, called Operation Peace Spring, intends to create a “safe zone” for the return of millions of refugees to Syria. But world powers fear Ankara’s action will deepen the conflict, and runs the risk of Islamic State prisoners escaping from camps amid the chaos.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss Syria at the request of the five European members – Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland, Reuters reported. In a letter to the 15-member Council, Turkey said that its military operation would be “proportionate, measured and responsible”.

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