Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Pentagon: Turkey put U.S. troops in danger with surprise airstrikes


Spokesman Mark Toner was speaking after Turkish warplanes bombed locations in north-eastern Syria and northern Iraq, killing not just PKK fighters but also Kurdish members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-ISIS group backed by the U.S.

Turkey, which backs Syrian rebel groups and which launched a ground operation in northern Syria a year ago, vowed to continue acting against groups it links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The air strikes have led to calls from Syrian Kurdish members of the USA -led coalition to call for US aerial protection against Turkish air strikes.

Elements of the PKK-linked Kurdish militias are also integrated into the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US -supported constellation of paramilitary groups, spearheading the attack on ISIS's self-styled capital of Raqqa.

Toner also noted that the Iraqi government had expressed concerns with Turkey's airstrikes, stressing that "military action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty".

The U.S. -provided weapons, which the source said included ammunition, anti-tank rockets and assault rifles as well as explosives, had passed into Turkey from Sinjar in northern Iraq and Syria's Karacok region.

In its statement, the military vowed to press ahead with operations against the PKK both inside Turkey and across its borders until the "last terrorist is eliminated".

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said Turkey had targeted several areas around Darbasiyah "with heavy artillery and mortar fire".

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The bombardment near the city of Al-Malikiyah in north-eastern Syria saw Turkish jets carry out "dozens of simultaneous air strikes" on YPG positions overnight, including a media centre, a monitoring group said. The U.S. considers the YPG one of the most effective rebel groups fighting IS in Syria.

Mr. Toner told reporters Tuesday that Ankara's need to crack down on the PKK and its affiliates, which are responsible for a number of terror attacks inside Turkey, is not lost on US officials.

US-BACKED guerillas called yesterday for the enforcement of a no-fly zone over northern Syria in response to Tuesday's air raids by Turkey.

Turkey now has hard relations with Baghdad and it has called on Iraq to do more to deal with the PKK, which has bases and fighters in northern Iraq.

The Turkish military announced Wednesday that they continued their strikes against the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) positions in Iraq, and the YPG in Syria, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Iraqi Kurdish authorities also demanded the withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters from northern Iraq's Sinjar region after the attacks.

"We recognize the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey can not pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all", Rankine-Galloway said. Russian officials' pleas not to strike were ignored, USA officials said.

In a rare rebuke to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, the USA military charged that Turkish airstrikes against a valued US -backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria came with little warning and could have endangered American advisers. The Syrian Kurds have driven IS from large parts of Syria and are now closing in on Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremists' self-styled caliphate.

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