Australia is worried Turkey’s military incursion into Syria will lead to the resurgence of Islamic State.
Turkey has begun its attack on north-eastern Syria, launching a large scale air strike and ground offensive against Kurdish targets.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been in direct contact with the Turkish and United States governments overnight and on Thursday morning to express his “deep concern” about the actions.
Asked whether military strikes against the Kurds could lead to Islamic State reclaiming territory it was driven from seven months ago, he said that was exactly the concern.
“And that is a concern that has been expressed by Australia and by many others,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“That is what we have expressed directly to our partners and our allies and certainly to the Turkish government.”
Mr Morrison is also worried about the safety of people in the area and what the invasion could mean for the Kurdish people.
He described the Syrian Democratic Forces as steadfast partners in the international fight against Islamic State, recognising they had borne “a significant share of the sacrifice”.
“We will be working through all diplomatic channels, working with our colleagues … to closely monitor these developments, get some clear understanding of the situation on the ground, and consider what possible international responses there are to these issues.”
Kurdish forces have also provided security to camps where the Australian wives and children of Islamic State militants are being held.
“The government remains concerned for the Australians in these camps,” the Prime Minister said.
“But, as we have previously stated, the situation is dangerous and unpredictable, and we will not put Australian officials and the public in danger.”
Mr Morrison has defended Donald Trump over the contentious withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for the Turkish incursion.
The US president has been accused of leaving Kurdish allies exposed to attacks from Turkish forces, who consider them terrorists.
But Mr Morrison insists the American action doesn’t amount to a betrayal or lead him to question its trustworthiness as an ally.
“Let’s be clear: it is the Turkish government that is taking action here to create an unstable situation,” he said.
“They’re the ones who are actually deploying and seeking to walk across the border and to take actions in another nation-state.
“It is the actions of the Turkish government that concerns Australia very seriously.”