Tánaiste may call in Turkish ambassador, following incursion in northern Syria

Coveney warns Islamic State could ‘fill vacuum’ of instability in region

Tánaiste Simon  Coveney said considerable progress had been made in the fight against Islamic State militants which remained a significant threat to regional and international security. File photograph: Reuters

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said considerable progress had been made in the fight against Islamic State militants which remained a significant threat to regional and international security. File photograph: Reuters

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned that Islamic State militants could “fill the vacuum” left by further instability in the wake of the Turkish incursion into northern Syria.

Mr Coveney highlighted the long-term consequences implicit in the US withdrawal from the area and said “unilateral military action against groups which played a decisive front-line role in this fight clearly risks undermining that progress”.

He said he will consider calling in Turkey’s ambassador to Ireland.

And told the Dáil he was “concerned that these developments will lead to further instability and that ISIS could take advantage of the vacuum”.

“It is imperative that terrorist fighters remain securely detained to prevent them from joining or rejoining the ranks of terrorist groups.”

Mr Coveney said considerable progress had been made in the fight against Islamic State militants which remained a significant threat to regional and international security.

He stressed the need to protect the rights of the ethnic Kurdish population.

He was responding to Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan and People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny.

Mr Kenny asked the Tánaiste if he would “summon the Turkish ambassador and ask him will he take responsibility for civilian deaths on his watch because at this moment there is blood on his hands”.

Ms O’Sullivan said words failed her when she heard comments by US president Donald Trump that the Kurds didn’t help the US in Normandy and the Second World War and why should he defend them now “when these are the same people who have fought alongside the US for the past five years”.

The Tánaiste said he would call in the ambassador if he believed it would be helpful.

“I’m not sure what purpose it would serve immediately but it may well be useful to do that to actually try and understand in detail the Turkish perspective and to have an opportunity to question that.”

But he said military action in Syria risked “undermining the work of the UN in attempting to facilitate a negotiated end to the conflict and a political transition which meets the legitimate aspirations of all communities in Syria”.

The issue would be raised at EU meetings next week and a number of countries had asked for it to be formally raised at the UN security council, he said.