White House: US remains “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s threats against Northern Syria

White House: US remains “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s threats against Northern Syria
Update: 23 July 2022 16:31
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A military operation by Turkey would be destabilizing and could put at risk the coalition campaign against ISIS, said John Kirby, White House National Security Council Coordinator

A White House official said that a military operation by Turkey to northern Syria would be destabilizing for the region and could put at risk the coalition campaign against ISIS.

“We remain deeply concerned by Turkey’s threat to conduct a military operation in northern Syria. We continue to believe that such an operation would be destabilizing and it could put at risk the civilian population there as well as quite frankly the coalition campaign against ISIS (Islamic State)” said John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in The White House.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signaled late May a new military offensive into Northern Syria to push mainly Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) militants further south to create what it calls a 30 km safe zone along its borders. Turkey sees YPG (People’s Protective Units), the main component of the SDF as an offshoot of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) that has been fighting Turkey for four decades and seen as a terrorist organization by the US and EU.

But the US distinguishes between the PKK and SDF, a reliable US ally against ISIS.

US Central Command Chief Michael Kurilla on Wednesday visited SDF leader Mazloum Abdi in his office and expressed opposition to the US against any possible offensive in Northern Syria by Turkey.

The same day, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dana Stroul said:

“We strongly oppose any Turkish operation into northern Syria and have made clear our objections to Turkey. IS will take advantage from that campaign”

The main concern of the US officials in the region is the reemergence of IS militants that have been defeated by the SDF and the coalition forces after fierce fighting in 2018.

SDF's top commander Mazloum Abdi last week warned the international coalition and said that Turkey wanted to disrupt the fight against ISIS.

"Our forces will not be able to fight on two fronts at once. They cannot fight simultaneously against Turkish forces and ISIS. Our preparations, particularly at this stage, are focused on a possible Turkish attack," he said.