TEHRAN (defapress)- Turkey’s Deputy PM Bekir Bozdag warned that US troops fighting alongside Syrian Kurdish militias in the same uniform may be targeted by the Turkish army due to the difficulty of distinguishing them in the heat of battle.
News ID: 68488
Publish Date: 05February 2018 - 15:04
Speaking to CNN Turk on Sunday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said if US troops wear “terrorists’ clothes” and find themselves among “terrorists” of the Kurdish YPG forces attacking the Turkish troops, “there is no chance that we [will] make a distinction at this point”.
He stressed that any person bearing weapons and fighting alongside the Kurds “is our target”.
However, Bozdag added neither side wants open confrontation, stressing that Ankara has made it clear that US troops present in the area should stay away from where the Turks operate, and should not assist their Kurdish allies.
“We are clearly saying that we do not want to confront our ally, the United States. I am sure that they do not want to face Turkey and Turkish armed forces,” Bozdag stated.
Tensions are on the rise between Turkey and the US after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that his country's army plan to expand their invasion of the Kurdish-held territories in Syria from Afrin to Manbij where some 3,000 US military forces are deployed.
Since the start of Operation “Olive Branch” by Ankara and its allied militants, Turkey has stressed that its forces would spread to the East, while Erdogan has stressed that his army would soon invade Manbij and continue the assault to the border with Iraq some 900km away.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also warned that it was "necessary for them (US) to immediately withdraw from Manbij" as well as take "more concrete steps rather than words" to end support for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the United States Central Command, had said that withdrawing US forces from Manbij is "not something we are looking into".
Turkey’s Operation ‘Olive Branch’ kicked off mid-January from air and ground around the area of Afrin in Syria's Aleppo to oust the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that Turkish offensive in Afrin is part of Ankara's strategy based on supporting terrorists.
The Syrian government has condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.