Turkey has stepped up airstrikes against northern Syria since the November 13 Istanbul bombing.
Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria threaten the safety of US military personnel and the escalating situation jeopardizes years of progress against ISIL (ISIS) fighters, the Pentagon said.
The public comments on Wednesday represent the strongest US condemnation of the NATO ally Turkey air operations in recent days against Kurdish-led YPG (People’s Protection Units) forces in northern Syria so far.
“Recent airstrikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of U.S. personnel working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and take more than 10,000 ISIS detainees into custody,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a statement. . pronunciation.
Ryder said the escalating situation threatened progress in the fight against ISIL fighters in the region.
He added that the US recognizes Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns”.
“Immediate de-escalation is necessary to maintain focus on the Defeat-ISIS mission and ensure the safety and security of ground personnel committed to the Defeat-ISIS mission,” Ryder added.
The US official’s comments come after Russia also warned of a Turkish ground operation in Syria.
The US has about 900 soldiers in Syria, mostly in the northeast of the country, working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the YPG, to fight against ISIL remnants.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey’s air operations were just the beginning and it would launch a land operation when it suits following an escalation of retaliation.
Ankara launched air operations this weekend in retaliation for a bomb attack in Istanbul a week earlier that killed six people and blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG. No one has claimed responsibility and the PKK and YPG have denied involvement.
Turkey has previously launched military raids in Syria against the YPG, deeming it a wing of the outlawed PKK, which Turkey, the US and the European Union classify as a “terrorist” group.
The PKK and the YPG have close ideological ties.
This is not the first time Turkey’s operations in northern Syria threaten US personnel. In 2019, US troops in the area came under artillery fire from Turkish positions as Turkey launched an offensive against US-allied Kurdish fighters at the time.
Turkey has repeatedly complained to the US that support for the YPG-led SDF undermines Washington’s position on the PKK and its commitment to Turkey’s security.
Erdogan claims that Turkey can only remove the threat from the PKK and YPG by removing the militias from the Turkey-Syria border and creating a “safe zone” in northern Syria.