Halt support for Syrian Kurds or risk confrontation, Turkey warns U.S.
Turkey urged the United States on Thursday to end its support for Syrian Kurdish militia, or it will risk confronting Turkish forces on the ground in Syria, Reuters reported.
Ankara’s strongest comments yet about a potential clash with its NATO ally came on the sixth day of the Turkish incursion into the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin against the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The majority of U.S.-backed rebel forces in the fight in Syria against the Islamic State are made up of YPG fighters and affiliates. The United States also has troops deployed in the YPG-held northern Syrian town of Manbij to carry out training.
Ankara considers YPG a terrorist organisation and has accused Washington of risking Turkey’s border security. The Turkish government has signalled its intentions to expand its military operation in Manbij after Afrin.
“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Reuters quoted Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Bekir Bozdağ as saying.
“The United States needs to review its solders and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in such a way as to avoid a confrontation with Turkey,” Bozdağ said.
In response, the Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, said she was aware of news reports that Turkey has asked the U.S. military to leave Manbij, but said she is not aware of any changes in the location of U.S. troops there, the AP report said.
The White House homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, was quoted by AP as saying that it would be a “terrible outcome” if Turkish troops clashed with “the proxy forces that we have all been relying on to defeat ISIS, especially if there are U.S. advisers in the region.”