Jan 22 2018

Turkish Operation "disrupts a relatively stable area" – WH on Afrin

In its first official statement on the issue, the White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders has asked Turkey to limit the scope and duration of its operations in northwest Syria.

Turkey launched military operations against the Kurdish forces in control of Afrin in northwest Syria last Saturday, after the announcement on Jan. 14 that a U.S.-backed border force would be established including fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an armed majority-Kurdish group that Turkey considers an extension of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Jan. 22 response from the White House reiterates the reassuring tone taken by U.S. officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson since last week, to assure Turkey that it “take(s) seriously Turkey’s legitimate security concerns”.

However, the statement warns that the operation and increased violence could disrupt a “relatively stable” area of Syria, “risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis”, and “could be exploited” by extremist jihadist groups the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

White House statement which was read by Sanders in the beginning of daily briefing also stated that the Turkish operation "distracts from international efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS."