The Pentagon encouraged both Turkey, a NATO ally, and the Kurdish forces whom it backs against ISIS in Syria to “avoid escalation.”
“We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS,” a Pentagon spokesperson told Rudaw in writing on Saturday.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is in control of Afrin in western Syria that came under the attack by the Turkish military on Saturday. The YPG is the backbone of the US-backed forces against ISIS in Syria.
Ankara considers the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish armed group that fights for greater Kurdish rights for millions of Kurds in Turkey but is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.. YPG denies any organic links with the PKK.
The US does not consider the YPG a terrorist organization.
“We recognize Turkey’s security concerns about the PKK, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization. The US does not provide any support to PKK,” the Pentagon said.
It added that the US-led Coalition does not have any ongoing operation in Afrin “because it is focused on military operations against ISIS.”
The US-backed SDF earlier in the day stated that Turkey’s aggression against Kurdish territories will shift away the focus on war against ISIS. While it said that they do not allow any attacks against the Turkish territory from Afrin, it warned that they will defend their land and people if attacked.
At least 10 people have been injured due to Turkish strikes against the Kurdish territory in Syrian Kurdistan, Rojava when the Turkish military launched an operation against Afrin, the western-most canton in the Kurdish enclave established shortly after the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.
Russia stated that it is concerned over the military operation by Turkey and called on the two sides to exercise “restraint.”
Moscow relocated its troops who were stationed in Afrin to protect their servicemen. It accused the United States for triggering the operation by using plans to establish the so-called border security force for the Kurdish enclave. Washington has since denied it wanted to establish such a force.
The United Kingdom also stated that they are following the events closely in Afrin, saying that they recognize “legitimate concerns” of Turkey over the border security with Syria.
“The UK is committed to working closely with Turkey and other allies to find solutions in Syria that provide stability, refrain from escalating the situation and protect Turkey’s security interests,” a spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office told AFP Saturday.
“We recognize that Turkey has a legitimate interest in the security of its borders,” the British official said.