Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar called on the United States on Thursday to show understanding over a possible new Turkish military operation in Syria, after Washington voiced its “strong opposition” to such a move, Reuters reported.
Turkey has been threatening a new incursion into northern Syria for months and stepped up preparations last month after a deadly bomb attack in İstanbul it blamed on Kurdish militants.
“The US asked us to re-evaluate. We conveyed to them our [concerns] and thoughts and asked them to keep their promises. We emphasized that they should understand us,” Akar told reporters.
Turkey also asked allied countries that have a military presence in Syria not to allow local militias to use their flags and uniforms, Akar added. “We have reminded them that they should keep [a distance from] terrorists and that they should eventually cut their ties with terrorist organizations,” he said.
Turkey sees the Kurdish YPG militia, the leading presence in the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and labels both of them as terrorist organizations.
The PKK is also considered a terrorist group by much of the international community.
The PKK and SDF have denied involvement in the Nov. 13 bombing of a busy pedestrian avenue in Istanbul.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria and voiced concern over the escalating situation in the county.