US calls on Turkey to focus on IS, not Kurds

US calls on Turkey to focus on IS, not Kurds

Today US Presidents Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the "Olive Branch" Turkish military operation in Syria's Afrin and the fight against terrorism by phone. Erdogan explained that this operation was carried out to ensure national security of Turkey and to defeat terrorists in Afrin and called on the US to stop military support of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the People's Protection Units (YPG).

As The Region writes in an article "US calls on Turkey to focus on IS, Kurds disappointed in US position", the United States government on Tuesday again called on Turkey to focus on ISIS, confirming the US State Secretary Rex W. Tillerson had three conversations with his Turkish counterpart. However, Kurds from Afrin say the United States could do more while civilians are killed. “We have very real concerns about that. The Secretary has been frank and has been clear, and I think that’s evident in the fact that he’s had three conversations with him” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said. “This area that we’re talking about, Afrin, was relatively stable given that it was Syria, but it was relatively stable, and now we’re seeing it not in that – in that situation. So we’re tremendously concerned about the situation. We call on all parties to remain focused,” she added. “The reason that the United States is in Syria is to focus on the fight against ISIS. And when you take your eye off ISIS, when you take your eye off that and potentially divert other resources, troops, and all of that to fighting the Kurds, that is a huge problem ” she concluded.

However, Heather Nauert also added that they are ‘concerned about destabilizing activities in northwestern Syria. “I want to make this clear as well, that Turkey is an important NATO ally. And as an important NATO ally, we understand – fully understand – Turkey’s concerns about different terrorist organizations.”

Omar Suleiman, a foreign relations official in Afrin told The Region that the silence from the US and international states is ‘heartbreaking’, referring to indications that the US allows the operation to happen and was informed on it by Turkey. “This silence from the international states and American approval to support Turkey with this operation is heartbreaking for us. We would like from a state like US a democratic state to support us since we are a civil people very peaceful and vulnerable and never we attacked anyone,” he said. “We are still believe that US will take the right choice since US role in the world is the biggest and we respect it. We still hope that US will make its attitude right of and course US has to seek for its interests and also Turkey to protect its border, but not in this way. If they want to protect, they have to cleanse it from ISIS, but we know they support IS and attack Kurds,” he concluded.

“Until now there is no clear attitude from international states especially Russia. We know they betrayed Kurds and that was really annoying,” Mohammed Kamal (48), a civilian from Afrin told The Region yesterday. However, he mostly blamed Russia. “They betrayed Afrin why. They give hand to Turkey and misled us. We also hope US will change their position,” he said.

The situation around Afrin escalated a week ago, when Washington intended to create "border security forces" from the formations of the "Syrian Democratic Forces", which mainly consist of Kurds.