Jan 19 2018

Pentagon watches Afrin with concern

With the prospect looming of a full Turkish military incursion into the region, the Syrian-Kurdish enclave of Afrin is the “major topic” the Pentagon will be watching this weekend, a U.S. official told CNN.

Mobilisation for an attack on Afrin has been underway since news emerged last Sunday of a planned 30,000-strong U.S.-backed border force in Syria, to be manned predominantly by Kurdish militias that Turkey considers affiliates of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Two U.S. defence officials told CNN on Friday that Syrian opposition militias aligned with Turkey had fired on U.S. forces near Manbij, in north Syria, “within the last week”.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, have repeatedly played down talk of the border force and called on Turkey to deescalate the situation and return its focus to the fight against the extremist jihadist Islamic State.