Attacks in Iraq and Syria
US worried about Turkish offensive
The US has expressed concern about a possible new ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria.
Lloyd Austin (r), US Secretary of Defense, attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting. Photo: Heng Sinith/AP/dpa
A new Turkish operation is firmly rejected, said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in conversation with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar, according to a Pentagon statement. Recent airstrikes there have already directly endangered the safety of US personnel. According to Ankara, Akar said in the conversation that the aim of the action was “terrorists”.
For almost two weeks, Turkey has been using airstrikes in northern Iraq and northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also threatened a ground offensive. Ankara blames the YPG and PKK for an attack in Istanbul in mid-November. Both groups had rejected this.
The US is cooperating with Kurdish militias in Syria in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). There is correspondingly great concern that the Kurdish militias will withdraw in the event of a Turkish offensive and that the IS could become stronger as a result. A ground offensive would “seriously jeopardize hard-won gains the world has made against ISIS and destabilize the region,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said a few days ago.
Turkey has already carried out four military offensives in northern Syria since 2016. According to the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Turkey does not want to clarify the “Kurdish question” along its borders with its military superiority, but rather “smash the entire political and military movement of the Kurds”. Turkey justifies its actions with a “terrorist threat” to the country from Syria and Iraq.
Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s most important ally in the Syrian civil war, had recently also demanded restraint from Turkey.