Türkiye’s security is threatened by terrorist elements near its southern border and the country has the right to self-defense, the White House declared on Tuesday.
“Türkiye does continue to suffer a legitimate terrorist threat, particularly to their south. They certainly have every right to defend themselves and their citizens,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, told reporters.
He revealed that the U.S. has concerns about cross-border operations, which he said would affect the fight against Daesh carried out by the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization, the YPG.
The operations “might force a reaction by some of our SDF partners, that would … constrain their ability to continue the fight against ISIS,” Kirby added, using alternative acronyms for the YPG and Daesh, respectively.
Ankara this week responded to a Nov. 13 Istanbul terror attack by destroying PKK targets with an air operation in northern Iraq and Syria.
Early Sunday, Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword, a cross-border aerial campaign against the PKK/YPG terror group, which has illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and Syrian borders where they plan attacks on Turkish soil.
The air operation followed the terror attack on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Street that killed six people and left 81 injured.
“We know the identity, location, and track record of the terrorists. We also know very well who patronizes, arms, and encourages terrorists,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in the northeastern province of Artvin on Tuesday.
Türkiye has done its part by respecting every agreement on the security of its border with Syria, he noted.
“Hopefully we will root all the terrorists out as soon as possible,” Erdoğan added.
Pentagon keeps alert
Hours after Kirby’s remarks, the Pentagon too announced it was monitoring the situation in northern Syria following Türkiye’s Operation Claw-Sword against terrorist elements beyond its borders, which Ankara said was carried out in line with the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
“We continue to monitor what’s happening on the ground and from all aspects of this department. We continue to urge for de-escalation on all sides,” spokesperson Sabrina Singh said at a press briefing.
When asked who the sides were, Singh did not name any party.
She said the Turkish strikes in Syria and Iraq were disrupting the goal of the “enduring defeat” of the terrorist group Daesh.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S., Türkiye and the European Union, however, Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate, the YPG, has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara.
The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against Daesh. On the other hand, Türkiye strongly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.’ support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Türkiye and that terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to YPG terrorists, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Türkiye conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.
Throughout Sunday and Monday this week, the PKK/YPG has been targeting residential areas in Türkiye’s southeast in retaliation to the Turkish counteroffensive, killing at least two and injuring six others in a rocket attack in the Gaziantep province.