The United States has criticized as “unacceptable” the fighting between forces backed NATO ally Turkey and U.S.-backed pro-Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, just days after the U.S. and Russia suggested there was no imminent ceasefire to the conflict that has killed at least a quarter of a million people.
“We are closely monitoring reports of clashes south of Jarabulus—where ISIL [Islamic State or ISIS] is no longer located—between the Turkish armed forces, some opposition groups, and units that are affiliated with the SDF (Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces),” Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said in a statement to Agence France-Presse.
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As Reuters explains, the SDF is a “a coalition that encompasses the Kurdish YPG militia and which has been backed by Washington to fight the jihadists.”
Also conveying the U.S. rebuke of the clashes was Brett McGurk, U.S special envoy for the fight against Islamic State. On his official Twitter page early Monday, McGurk criticized Turkey’s military for targeting YPG positions instead of ISIS. The Department of Defense, he wrote, wants “to make clear that we find these clashes —in areas where #ISIL is not located—unacceptable and a source of deep concern.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made his position on targeting Kurdish militias clear. He said Sunday that Ankara would target the YPG and ISIS “with the same determination.” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim conveyed the same strategy on Friday. “We will continue until Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist elements are taken out,” he said.
As Al Jazeera reported,
Jason Ditz adds at Antiwar.com:
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