Pentagon’s position against Turkish ground offensive into Syria “very clear”
The US Defense Ministry has reiterated its “clear position” against a ground offensive into Syria by Turkish forces, saying their focus continues to be containing ISIS (Islamic State) with the help of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF.)
“We've been very clear publicly, in terms of what our position is in regards to a potential new military operation in -- in northern Syria,” Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said during a press briefing.
Asked if the Turkish military will notify the US forces ahead of time in case of a military incursion, Ryder said: “We regularly communicate at a variety of levels with Turkey. And certainly when it comes to the safety and security of our forces, I would hope that we would not find them in a situation that would jeopardize that.”
He added: “At this time, you know, we continue to monitor the situation. As you know, the SDF -- the U.S.-SDF partner patrols have resumed. Our focus, again, in that region continues to be on containing ISIS, as evidenced by CENTCOM's raid that they announced earlier today. And so, again, we'll stay in close communication with our Turkish allies on -- on that front.”
On December 1, The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin conveyed Pentagon’s “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar.
On Nov. 13, a bomb attack hit Istanbul, killing six and wounding 81 people. In response to the explosion, Turkey launched airstrikes into Northern Syria and Northern Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups which it blamed for the attack on its soil. Ankara also threatens for a ground operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that is allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK, an outlawed armed group fighting an insurgency against Turkish military for Kurdish autonomous rights, and says the YPG is inseparable from the SDF, blaming the US for supporting Kurdish “terrorism” against Turkey.