The US is worried that “unilateral” military action against its proxy forces might jeopardize its foothold in Syria, claiming that the Kurds are vital in the battle against IS, as Turkey vows to get rid of “separatist terrorists.”
Despite major breakthroughs in the battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and in the ongoing reconciliation process in Syria, the US has repeatedly made clear its intention to remain in the country indefinitely, pledging to continue to back the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to counter Bashar Assad and Iranian influence in the Kurdish-dominated part of Syria. The presence of some 2,000 US military ‘advisers’ in the country has not only angered Damascus, but has also placed Ankara in direct confrontation with its NATO ally, especially after US-backed fighters attempted to set up parallel government structures.
To get rid of what he called a “separatist terrorist organization” east of the Euphrates, where the US-supported YPG Kurdish militia of the SDF now controls much of the territory, the Turkish president earlier this week promised to launch a new military campaign in Syria “within a matter of days.”
Washington, keen to protect its interest in the area, has –somewhat hypocritically– warned Ankara against launching a “unilateral” military campaign that might endanger US soldiers, who have recently established observation posts along the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurds, the Pentagon stressed, remain a “committed partner” in Washington’s fight against Islamic State.
We would find any such actions unacceptable
“Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern,” Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “We would find any such actions unacceptable.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, believes that there is not much of a threat from the crippled Islamic State in Syria anymore, and that the Turkish military has the right to act to get rid of what he called a “terrorist corridor” forming alongside its border. “It is time to realize our decision to wipe out terror groups east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said.
It is clear that the purpose of these US observation posts is not to protect our country from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey.
“Our target is not the American soldiers, it is the terror organizations that are active in the region,” Erdogan added in a televised speech, which triggered a strong response from the Pentagon.
Ankara has already conducted two major offensives in northern Syria with the help of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army. Earlier this year, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria after the US announced its renewed commitment to maintaining support of the predominantly-Kurdish militia with training and weapons. Another cross-border incursion by the Turkish military, called Operation Euphrates Shield, was held from August 2016 to March 2017 with the aim of driving out IS terrorists, and the US-backed forces away from the border.