Washington was deeply concerned when Ankara announced it would launch a military operation in Syria, warning that such action could threaten US troops in the region.
“We condemn any escalation and support the maintenance of the ongoing ceasefire agreements,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a May 24 news conference, referring to the news that Turkey was about to launch a military operation in northern Syria .
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously announced that Turkey would soon begin a new military operation in northern Syria to create a 30-kilometer-wide security belt along the border. Erdogan said the operation will begin after Turkey’s military, intelligence and security forces complete preparations, but gave no further details.
Price said the US recognized Turkey’s “legitimate concerns” about the situation on the southern border but warned that “any new operation would undermine regional stability and threaten US troops who are currently fighting”. (IS).
He urged Turkey to stick to the October 2019 joint statement that included halting its offensive in northeastern Syria.
Reacting to the Turkish president’s statement, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said Syria’s priority is a political solution and humanitarian aid. “We support Syria’s territorial integrity, what they need is no more military operations in any area,” Dujarric said.
Turkey has launched three military operations on Syrian territory since 2016, targeting the Kurdish militia group called the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is a US ally in the war against ISIS in Syria. Ankara believes the YPG is related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.
The last time Turkey launched a military operation in Syria was in October 2019. Then-US Vice President Mike Pence flew to Turkey to hold talks with President Erdogan and call for an end to hostilities. Turkey and Russia negotiated and then agreed on a ceasefire in northeastern Syria.
President Erdogan announced that he will launch a new operation in Syria after announcing that he does not accept the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO. Turkey accuses the two Nordic countries of supporting the PKK and Kurdish militias.
The US currently maintains around 900 soldiers in northern Syria who are working with the YPG in the fight against IS. President Joe Biden’s administration has no plans to withdraw these forces from Syria.
Nguyen Tien (Corresponding AFP)