Trump warns Turkey not to risk conflict with United States
U.S. President Donald Trump warned his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Wednesday to avoid risking military conflict with the United States during the ongoing Turkish military incursion into Syria, a White House statement said.
The Jan. 14 announcement of a U.S.-backed 30,000-strong border force including many fighters from Kurdish groups deemed by Turkey to be terrorists, spurred Turkey into launching a military offensive against the majority-Kurdish area of Afrin in northwest Syria.
Trump and Erdoğan discussed U.S. concerns that the “escalating violence” in Afrin risked undercutting the countries’ “shared goals” in Syria, and “urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces”, the White House said.
Trump again repeated the words of senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to reiterate the importance of focussing on the fight against the extreme jihadist Islamic State.
Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency, in place since after the July 2016 coup attempt, is one of the areas of concern that Trump brought up during the phone conversation. He also “expressed concern about the destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey”, where U.S. citizens and employees have been detained.
Trump reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting Turkey’s security and “combating terrorism in all its forms”, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and what he called Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
The Turkish government also issued a press release on the conversation, stating that Erdoğan had demanded the end of U.S. support of arms to Syrian Kurdish militia People’s Protection Units (YPG), and told Trump the Afrin operation was legitimate according to international law.