US: Any Turkish incursion against Kurds in northern Syria ‘unacceptable’
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday any Turkish operation in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria would be “unacceptable” and the United States would prevent unilateral incursions.
“Clearly we believe any unilateral action by them would be unacceptable,” Esper said.
“What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions that would upset, again, these mutual interests… the United States, Turkey and the SDF share with regard to northern Syria,” he added.
According to local reports, Turkish commando units have been sent to border towns on the Syrian border over the past few weeks.
On Sunday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey, which already has a foothold in northwest Syria, will carry out a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area east of the Euphrates in northern Syria.
The Turkish-led campaign, which has for months been delayed due to resistance from Washington that proposed establishing a 19-mile “safe zone” along the border, is aimed at evicting Kurdish YPG forces from a string of border town in Raqqa and Hasaka provinces.
With U.S. backing, the SDF, which includes the Kurdish YPG militia, have taken control over the last four years of much of northeastern Syria from ISIS terrorists. However, Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist organization.
The Kurds are Turkey’s largest minority, comprising 15 percent to 20 percent of the population. Kurds and Kurdish culture have been targeted by the controlling regimes over the decades, with the Kurdish language, dress, culture, and even names being banned at various times due to political tensions.