The Morrison government has dispatched the Australian ambassador in Turkey to urge a halt to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria amid growing fears of a humanitarian catastrophe after the withdrawal of US forces.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned of the "deeply troubling" threat from the Turkish operation, in a message also conveyed directly to the Turkish ambassador in Canberra on Thursday.
Labor also called on Turkey to stop its military advance but broke with the government on the cause of the crisis, blaming United States President Donald Trump for creating the conditions for the new conflict.
Days after Mr Trump announced the withdrawal, Kurdish observers said the Turkish invasion would lead to a "bloodbath" that would create hundreds of thousands of refugees.
The Morrison government voiced its concerns at the Turkish moves by calling in the Turkish Ambassador to Australia to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra.
As well, the Australian ambassador in Ankara, Marc Innes-Brown, put the Australian concerns to counterparts in the Turkish capital. Mr Innes-Brown is a former ambassador to Iran and Iraq.
While Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne was in Tasmania on Thursday, she arranged for the Australian position to be put to Turkey's Ambassador Korhan Karako by officials in Canberra.
The government and opposition held back from criticising Mr Trump in the first day after he announced the troop withdrawal, but Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the situation was caused by the US decision.
Asked about Mr Trump, Senator Wong said "he makes the decision he makes" but that it was up to allies such as Australia to express its view.
"I think it is telling that you have senior Republicans and a former military commander, among many others, raising concerns about this decision," she said. Senator Wong said the situation had been "enabled" by the US decision to withdraw.
"It is true that this is military action launched by Turkey. It has, however, been enabled by the decision of the Trump Administration to withdraw US forces from Northern Syria," Senator Wong said. She cited a warning from the former commander of US Central Command, Joseph Votel, that Mr Trump's move to abandon the Kurds could severely damage American credibility and reliability in future conflicts.
"I think that Turkey's actions risk destabilising the region, risk regional and global security and risk undermining progress against Daesh, and I am not alone in making those assertions," Senator Wong said.
While Mr Morrison and Senator Payne made no criticism of Mr Trump, they expressed concern at the Turkish move to take advantage of the absence of US forces. "The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey's unilateral military operation into northeastern Syria," they said.
- SMH/The Age