The United States does not approve of Turkey’s military actions in Iraqi Kurdistan, Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesman for the US State Department, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Responding to questions about Turkey’s recent cross-border military operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and drone strikes that have caused civilian casualties, Patel stressed the US position on maintaining ceasefires and protecting civilians. Emphasising the importance of ceasefires in promoting stability in Syria and finding a political solution to the conflict, Patel urged “all sides involved” to respect them.
“We do not greenlight or otherwise provide permission for Turkish operations,” Patel reiterated during the briefing.
In response to a question specifically about condemning attacks on civilians, rather than using the explicit term ‘condemn’, Patel said: “We have urged the government of Turkey to coordinate with the government of Iraq and the KRI on these cross-border operations.”
The spokesman also expressed continued concern about the violence in northern Syria and its potential impact on civilians, as well as its potential to hinder efforts against Islamic State (ISIS). He reiterated the US commitment to ensuring the security of US and global coalition forces operating in the region against ISIS.
On Monday, the US Consulate in Erbil (Hewlêr) also condemned any loss of civilian life and called on Turkey to coordinate with Iraqi and Kurdistan Region authorities.
Recent drone strikes in the KRI’s Sulaymaniyah province have killed three civilians and wounded others in suspected Turkish attacks.
Last week, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded to a question about US silence on Turkey’s intensified daily attacks on Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria by urging “all sides to maintain and respect the ceasefire zones in order to promote stability in Syria and work towards a political solution to the conflict”.
Nadine Maenza, president of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) secretariat, slammed the US State Department for Miller’s call for “all sides”, as Turkish aggression in Kurdish-led areas has recently escalated.
“But only Turkey is violating the ceasefire,” Maenza said via social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. She added that 13 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters and one civilian have been killed in Turkish offensives since the beginning of July.