Turkey has legitimate security concerns over its southern border, but the U.S. will not endorse its military operation in northern Syria, senior State Department officials said Friday.
“First of all, the United States will not endorse this invasion; it will not give it any kind of political cover or in any way think that it is a good idea. It endangers our allies in the fight against terror, the SDF, most of whom are from the region,” said one of the officials in a statement on the situation in Syria.
The U.S. will not give any military support to the operation, the official added.
“If Turkey acts in a way that is disproportionate, inhumane, or otherwise goes beyond the lines that the President has in his own mind, the United States is willing to impose significant costs,” the official stressed.
The statement underlined that Turkey has legitimate security concerns, since it has been suffering from terrorist attacks by the PKK.
“So Turkey has legitimate security concerns, which the President has repeatedly indicated, but the people of northeast Syria, including the Kurdish population, have their own concerns, and we have a very important set of security interests in northeast Syria,” the official said.
Highlighting that the U.S. needs a partner on the ground, it said that partner has been the SDF, a major component of which has been the YPG, which is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
“That, of course, is the problem for Turkey, which has been suffering horrific terrorist attacks from the PKK for now 35 years, since 1984,” the official added.
Referring to the detainees in the prisons which are the under control of the SDF, the official said Turkey will assume responsibility for the detainees if they take over an area where there are such detention facilities.
It added that the detainee issue is “obviously a concern” of President Donald Trump.
Operation Peace Spring
Turkey on Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders and Syria’s territorial integrity by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees.
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.
Ankara has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates River and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-km (19-mile) wide proposed safe zone in Syria stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terror groups such as the PKK, PYD and YPG risk its formation.
Turkey has freed an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria from terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria — Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch — to eradicate threats from Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and under the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists.
Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country.
More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, 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.
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