US setting up observation posts along Turkey-Syria border due to Ankara’s concerns

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The United States is setting up observation posts along the Turkish border in northern Syria, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Wednesday, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Turkey has legitimate concerns about terrorist threats in Syria, and the US does not dismiss any of its concerns, he told reporters at the Pentagon.

“We are putting in OPs [observation posts] up in northern Syria, this is a change now. We are putting in observation posts in several locations up along the Syria border,” Mattis said.

“We want to be the people to call the Turks and warn them if we see something coming out of an area that we’re operating in,” he added.

The US is consulting closely with the Turkish military and the State Department, said the defense chief.

“We are going to track any threat that we can spot going up into Turkey. That means we will be talking to Turkey’s military across the border,” added Mattis.

Mattis also said the observation posts would not require additional US troops being sent to Syria. The Pentagon says it has about 2,000 troops in the country.

The United States has long complained that tensions between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, have at times slowed down progress on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Turkey deems the YPG an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

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