‘We do not have people operating in Afrin, so that does not have a direct effect on what we are doing’, spokesman says.
The U.S. Defense Department on Friday dismissed comments that a Turkish military operation against the PYD/PKK-held city of Afrin in northern Syria would throw diplomatic relations between Ankara and Washington into chaos.
“One action does not typically result in chaos or a breakdown. We have regular communication with our ally Turkey,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Anadolu Agency, adding he would not even pass judgement on such extreme remarks.
Pahon’s comments follow remarks by some unnamed American officials to CNN that a military operation by Turkey in Afrin could undermine the fight against Daesh, spark a regional clash and throw diplomatic relations between the U.S. and its NATO ally into chaos.
“We talk about these things. That is [part of] being allies. Allies do not always see eye to eye, but they are willing to work together,” Pahon reiterated.
“In Afrin in particular, we do not have people operating in Afrin, so that does not directly affect what we are doing. We would like to see everybody maintain their focus on our main goal -- the defeat of ISIS,” said Pahon, using another acronym for Daesh.
Responding to reports of Russia withdrawing its forces from Afrin, Pahon said “that is a deal between Russia, the [Syrian] regime and Turkey. We are not involved in it”.
The Pentagon had previously stated that the U.S. did not consider the PYD/PKK elements in Afrin as part of anti-Daesh operations.
The U.S. is working with the PYD/PKK-led SDF in Syria. The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has engaged in a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.