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Pentagon condemns Turkey's offensive on Kurds

August 29, 2016

The Pentagon has called Turkey's attacks on the Kurdish-led militia in Syria "unacceptable." Ankara meanwhile has launched airstrikes against the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq.

Image: picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/E. Ozdemir

"We are closely monitoring reports of clashes south of Jarabulus - where ISIL is no longer located - between the Turkish armed forces, some opposition groups and units that are affiliated with the SDF (Kurdish-led Syrian democratic forces)," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a press statement, using another acronym for the "Islamic State" (IS) group.

"We want to make clear that we find these clashes unacceptable and they are a source of deep concern," Cook said on Monday. "This is an already crowded battle space. Accordingly, we are calling on all armed actors to stand down immediately and take appropriate measures to de-conflict," he added.

Washington was striving "to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria," Cook stressed, adding that the US "was not involved in these activities, they were not coordinated with US forces and we do not support them."

The US backs the Kurdish YPG, considered a "terrorist" organization by Turkey.

Turkey's Minister for European Union Affairs, Omer Celik, blasted the Pentagon for the remarks. "No one has the right to tell us which terrorist organization we can fight against and which one to ignore," he told reporters in Brussels.

Infografik Kurdische Siedlungsgebiete ENG

New offensive in northern Iraq

Ankara's forces staged more attacks in northern Syria on Monday, striking 20 targets 61 times in Syria in the last 24 hours. At least 25 "terrorists" were killed, officials said, insisting that their army was making sure no civilians were hurt.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights however, at least 40 people were killed in Turkish shelling in areas controlled by pro-Kurdish militia. Turkey says it will continue its strikes unless the Kurdish YPG withdraws to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The country has also launched airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said. Air force jets launched strikes on Monday morning in Gara, northern Iraq. The targets were "destroyed."

The PKK, branded a terrorist group by Ankara, is based in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq. The organization has been held responsible for many attacks on security forces in Turkey's restive southeast.

mg/kms (dpa, AFP)