US downplayed Turkey’s concerns in north Syria: expert


The U.S. played down Turkey’s concerns about the YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terrorist group, prompting Turkish troops to move into northern Syria, said an expert Wednesday.  

“That couldn’t last,” wrote Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, in an article for The Washington Post, noting that U.S. support for the YPG in the region “has been a ticking time bomb” since 2014.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Turkey has said the PKK terrorist group and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.

Then U.S. President Barack Obama also did not support Turkey’s request to create a buffer zone to keep YPG terrorists from its border, said Sloat, adding that Ankara’s proposal to form a force from Syrian opposition groups was also dismissed by the Obama administration.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Sloat said Washington does not categorizes the YPG as a terrorist entity.

“Both groups operate under the same command structure, and fighters move freely between them. Indeed, the YPG is militarily effective in part because of its members’ experience in Turkey,” she wrote.

She recalled that the YPG also sought to connect three northern Syrian cantons into a single autonomous region.

“This territory, however, borders the southeastern part of Turkey, where much of its Kurdish population lives. Turkey worried that the United States’ strengthening of the YPG in Syria could encourage the PKK to renew conflict at home,” said Sloat.

She said the U.S. must preserve its relationship with Turkey despite being a “challenging ally.”

“But it remains an important Muslim-majority ally in a critical region. And, given its geography, it has a clear interest in a stable Syria.

“The United States should remain focused on ensuring that the Syrian neighbor with the most to lose remains invested in the efforts to decisively defeat the Islamic State,” she wrote.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria — Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch — to purge the region of Daesh and the YPG.
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