The heads of the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee on Saturday expressed concerns about recent Turkish attacks against northern Syria, underlining the possible counter effect of the Turkish aggression on the struggle against the Islamic State (ISIS).
“Turkey has legitimate national security concerns following the bombing that led to civilian deaths and injuries in Istanbul earlier this month,” said Republican Michael McCaul and Democrat Gregory W. Meeks, in a statement, referring to a deadly blast on 13 November that left six people dead and 81 others injured.
Ankara has blamed Kurdish militants for the attack and started airstrikes on 20 November against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which forms the backbone of the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in northern Syria. The Turkish government in recent weeks has been preparing a ground invasion against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which dominates the SDF.
“However, we are deeply concerned that Turkey’s recent attacks on the Syrian Democratic Forces endanger critical counter-ISIS efforts as ISIS continues its terrorist attacks while seeking to recruit and rebuild,” the statement continued.
The two congressmen urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “to refrain from any action which would undermine the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS’s ability to ensure the lasting defeat of this heinous terrorist group or threaten the lives and livelihoods of civilians in Syria”.
The SDF on Friday announced that it could no longer participate in joint counterterrorism operations with the US and other allies in the wake of the Turkish attacks.
A spokesperson for the SDF said that “all coordination and joint counter-terrorism operations” with the US-led coalition battling remnants of ISIL (ISIS) in Syria as well as “all the joint special operations we were carrying out regularly” had been halted.