Jan 26 2018

Turkey’s assault on Syrian Kurdish fighters is a ‘distraction’ – Pentagon

The conflict between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish fighters is a “distraction” from the allies’ fight against the common threat of Islamic State (IS), said the Pentagon in an email to reporters on Jan. 25.

“We have to focus as allies on the mission at hand, and that’s defeating ISIS,” the U.S. Department of Defence’s chief spokeswoman Dana W. White said in the email, using an alternative abbreviation for IS.

The Pentagon’s words came as Turkey’s incursion to northwestern Syrian district of Afrin reached its seventh day. Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish militia, which is in control of the border region, as a terrorist organisation and has aaccused the United States of putting Turkey’s security at risk by supporting them.

The United States recognises Turkey’s legitimate national security concerns as the only NATO country that has an active insurgency operating on their territory, said the Pentagon’s Joint Staff Director, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.

McKenzie said that the United States has not trained or provided equipment for any of the Kurds in the region current under Turkish airstrikes, adding “We’re focused on the Euphrates River valley operations to the south and to the east.”

White said they will continue to talk with Turkey and attempt to “de-escalate” the situation and focus on the priority of defeating the IS.