Pentagon: Turkey put USA troops in danger with surprise airstrikes

Caroline Beck
May 5, 2017

Russian Federation on Wednesday criticized Turkey's airstrikes against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, saying they hindered efforts to combat the Islamic State group, as Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish fighters traded fire across the increasingly tense frontier. Ankara has fought a years-long campaign against Kurdish militants including the PKK, to quell Kurdish separatists movements inside its own borders, Reuters reported.

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

Both groups have been close partners to US and coalition efforts to fight the Islamic State.

The Turkish raids showed the challenges facing USA -led attempts to defeat Islamic State in Syria and tension between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Washington and Ankara over Kurdish combatants who have been crucial in driving back the jihadists.Ankara sees the YPG as a hostile force and an extension of the outlawed PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

There have been other incidents when Turkey has conducted strikes, often with similar notice, and the US will make sure to detail where American forces are within the potential strike zone so they are not hurt.

However, Dorrian said in a video conference from Baghdad that the YPG forces continue to "make tremendous sacrifices" in the fight against ISIS and in preparation for the assault on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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The U.S. -backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria are threatening to pull out of the anti-ISIS coalition if the U.S. won't protect them from Turkish airstrikes on their positions.

Turkish forces were firing artillery at YPG positions west of Darbasiyah, a border town in Syria's northeast Hasakeh province, and YPG fighters were lobbing rockets on Turkish outposts, said the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman.

In northern Iraq they killed six peshmerga fighters from the autonomous Kurdish government, usually allied with Ankara, in an apparent accident.

The Turkish army earlier said it had conducted a strike against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in an alleged bid to prevent the Kurdish forces from sending weapons to Turkey.

USA forces operating in northeastern Syria are working in a very large "operations box", Dorrian explained, and need adequate coordination and notification of impending operations in the region to ensure their safety.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended the move.

The PKK is a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group that has been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish government since the 1980s.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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