U.S. sharply criticized Turkey for strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq

2017/04/26 | 10:30

(Iraq News)- Acting U.S.

State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner, March 7, 2017.

Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON,— The Trump administration sharply criticized Turkey on Tuesday for attacking Kurdish militants in Syrian Kurdistan and Iraq’s Sinjar, accusing the U.S.

NATO ally of failing to coordinate the airstrikes with the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State (IS) militants.

The State Department and Pentagon both described the United States as “deeply concerned” by the strikes and said the objections were raised directly with the Turkish government.

They warned that Turkey’s targeting of Kurdish groups could distract from the common campaign to defeat IS.

Syrian activists said the attack in Syrian Kurdistan killed at least 18 members of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units YPG, a U.S.

ally against IS.

Turkey sees it as a terrorist group because of its alleged ties to Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK.

The Turkish attack in Iraq killed five members of the Iraqi Kurdish militia known as the peshmerga, another partner in the anti-IS coalition.

“We are very concerned, deeply concerned, that Turkey conducted airstrikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper coordination with either the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

“These airstrikes were not approved by the coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against ISIS that includes members of the Kurdish peshmerga.” Toner noted Iraq’s criticism of the attack on its soil and said any military action in that country “should respect Iraqi sovereignty.”

Coordination among all partners is vital “to ensure the safety of all coalition personnel” in Iraq and Syria, he said.

Marine Maj.

Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said Turkey must prioritize the fight against IS.

“We recognize the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey cannot pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all,” Rankine-Galloway said.

U.S regards the Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its military wing YPG, as key ally against Islamic State and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers. The Kurdish militia has seized swathes of Syria from IS.

Turkey says they’re an extension of the PKK, and that PKK fighters are finding sanctuaries in Iraq and Syria.

A Turkish military statement said the pre-dawn strikes hit targets on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and a mountainous region in Syria.

It said the operations were conducted to prevent infiltration of Kurdish rebels, weapons, ammunition and explosives from those areas into Turkey.

Syrian Kurdistan’s ruling PYD has established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013.

On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan.

Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria that will not be loyal to Ankara — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.

Turkey is dreaming of and doing every possible to create a system in northern Syria identical to the Turkey-loyal Iraqi Kurdistan Region, analysts say.

Turkish President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that airstrikes against Kurdish PKK-affiliated militants in Sinjar was coordinated with Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic party KDP leader Massoud Barzani.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AP | Ekurd.net

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