WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – 17 Jan 2018 – MESOP – Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon: We are not operating in Afrin” – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has extended Turkey’s threat against Kurdish militia, speaking with reporters after a conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a summit in Canada. Çavuşoğlu indicated that Turkey might not only move against Afrin in the northwest but also the city of Manbij in eastern Aleppo Province, held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.The Foreign Minister framed the warning as “precautions” against the Kurdish militia YPG.The US military has indicated that it will not defend the Kurdish YPG militia from any Turkish attack on the Kurdish Afrin canton in northwest Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — angered at US plans for a 30,000-strong border force including the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces — said over the weekend and again Monday that the Turkish military will remove “terrorism” in Afrin.
A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, told Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency that the US-led coalition is not involved with the YPG in the Afrin area: “”We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.”Baghdad-based coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said, according to Anadolu, “We are not operating in Afrin. We are supporting our partners in defeating remaining ISIS pockets along the Middle Euphrates River Valley [in northeast Syria].”The coalition’s Public Affair Office was non-committal, in an e-mail to Al Jazeera English: “It would be inappropriate and irresponsible to speculate on hypothetical situations. “What we can tell you is that the international coalition is resolved to train, equip and support our SDF partners to attain the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
The US created the SDF in autumn 2015, providing it with special forces, armored vehicles, and arms to defeat ISIS in northern and eastern Syria. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.The coalition’s Public Affairs Office said on Tuesday that there is no problem: Security forces are internally oriented and do not pose any threat to our coalition partner and NATO member, Turkey. Furthermore, they do not pose any threat to any other country in the region,.
These internal forces are focused on preventing the flow of terrorists across borders, thus bringing more stability to the region.
Turkey’s head of armed forces Gen. Hulusi Akar said at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Tuesday that Ankara “will not allow an extension of the PKK to be given support and armed under the guise of being an ‘operational partner”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized the message in a phone call to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, later declaring, “NATO! You are obliged to take a stand against those who harass the borders of one of your partners.” www.mesop.de