Claims by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey had been given the green light to launch a military operation into Syria, east of the Euphrates River, have been refuted by the United State of America.
Earlier this week, Erdogan, speaking at an election rally said: ““We have officially announced that we will start the operation to the east of the Euphrates. We are determined. Mr. Trump has responded positively for our operation plan. Our cross-border operation along the borderline of 500 kilometres with Syria will not harm US troops.”
At the US State Department’s weekly press conference in Washington, spokesman Robert Palladino was asked: “President Erdogan claimed yesterday that President Trump had given him a nod for a Turkish attack on Syria east of the Euphrates. That is a misstatement, isn’t it, that President Trump had told President Erdogan that they could attack east of the Euphrates?”
“Yes [that is a misstatement]. The United States and Turkey are coordinating actively on all issues affecting both Turkish security and the situation in northeast Syria, where, of course, as you know, US forces are present in the campaign to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We’ve made significant progress recently in the campaign, and – but the job is not yet done.” said Palladino.
“And President Trump and President Erdogan had discussed these issues in their telephone call last week, as did Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu in a separate call. Both of our countries remain focused on coordination to counter the threats that terror poses to Turkey, the region, and beyond, and we believe we’re making progress with Turkey.”
Turkish forces entered northern Syria near the town of Afrin in January 2018, but the US and Turkey have been at odds over the role of Kurdish resistance fighters in Syria.
The Turkish government claims that the SDF is merely an extension of the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey. The SDF is made up primarily of Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in Syria. PKK is classified by the US, the European Union and Turkey as a terrorist organization.
However, the US sees the SDF as a valuable ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group in Syria.
The US special envoy to Syria, Ambassador James Jeffrey described the U.S. relationship with the SDF as “tactical and transactional” to defeat ISIS. And he further compared the extent of that relation with the one with Iraqi Kurds, Kurdish Democratic Party(KUP) and SCIRI, which has lasted for more than 20 years.
Clarifying Jeffrey’s remarks, Mr. Palladino emphasized the role of SDF in the fight against ISIS.
“They’re a critical partner in the fight, and our goal for the SDF is the same for many other groups in Syria, and that is, as you just quoted Ambassador Jeffrey, that’s to be a part of the fabric of a changed Syria. And beyond that, I would refer you specifically to Ambassador Jeffrey’s comments, who spoke about it extensively yesterday.” said Palladino.