House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) issued a statement on the situation in northern Syria, the DoS Website reported. “Turkey has legitimate national security concerns following the bombing that led to civilian deaths and injuries in Istanbul earlier this month,” the statement read. “However, we are deeply concerned that Turkey’s recent attacks on the Syrian Democratic Forces endanger critical counter-ISIS efforts as ISIS continues its terrorist attacks while seeking to recruit and rebuild. We urge President Erdogan to refrain from any action which would undermine the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS’s ability to ensure the lasting defeat of this heinous terrorist group or threaten the lives and livelihoods of civilians in Syria.”
The spokesperson for the Turkish presidency has told Al Jazeera that Kurdish armed groups in Syria are “legitimate targets” and accused them of exploiting ties with the United States to justify their presence along Turkey’s border with Syria. “For us, any and all PKK, PYD, YPG establishments, elements, posts, military points are legitimate targets for us,” Kalin said, whether they are in Syria or Turkey.
The Pentagon has urged Turkey to stand down on its plan to invade Syria as the operation could endanger U.S. troops in the country. “Secretary Austin called for de-escalation and shared the Department’s strong opposition to a new Turkish military operation in Syria,” according to a readout of the call between Austin and Akar.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has rebuffed his Russian allies’ efforts to arrange a meeting with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, citing Turkey’s upcoming elections and the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil. “Why hand Erdogan a victory for free? No rapprochement will happen before the elections,” an unnamed source with knowledge of Syria’s thinking told Reuters. The source added Syria sees a meeting with Erdogan as “useless if it does not come with anything concrete, and what they have asked for so far is the full withdrawal of Turkish troops [from Syria].”
U.S. troops Saturday resumed joint patrols with Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria days after they were stopped amid Turkish threats of a new ground incursion into the war-torn country, AP reported. A patrol consisting of four American armoured vehicles and one for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces was seen leaving a U.S. base near the northeastern town of Rmeilan in Hassakeh province. The patrol was driving northeast toward another U.S. base near the border with Iraq. U.S. officials had said the patrols that resumed Saturday are not to counter IS militants but will be limited to areas around a sprawling camp housing tens of thousands of mostly women and children linked to IS as well as prisons where the SDF is holding thousands of extremists.