U.S. Coalition Forces ‘Well Prepared’ to Defend Against Turkish Offensive in Syria

Turkish offensive risks direct confrontation between NATO allies

Turkish troops advance near the Syria border at Hassa, Hatay province

Turkish troops advance near the Syria border at Hassa, Hatay province / Getty Images

BY:

U.S. coalition forces stationed in the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij are ready to guard against a threatened Turkish offensive that risks direct confrontation between the NATO allies, a coalition spokesman said Friday.

Turkey last week launched an air and ground assault on the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin in an attempt to oust the American-backed People's Protection Units, or YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to extend the operation 60 miles east to Manbij, where, unlike in Afrin, the Pentagon maintains U.S. troops.

"Our forces there are well prepared to defend themselves," coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told the Washington Free Beacon. "We have air coverage over all of our troops so we're always prepared to defend ourselves, whether it's from ISIS or any other threat."

Dillon reaffirmed American support for the Kurdish YPG fighters who make up the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a key U.S. partner in the campaign against the Islamic State. The Trump administration has continued to provide weapons, training, and air support to SDF troops over the protests of Turkey.

"They have played a role in making sure we can stay focused on defeating Daesh," Dillon said, using an alternative name for ISIS. "That threat still exists, there's still hardcore fighting happening, and that's what we are still focused on and we don't want anything to distract from that."

Turkey on Thursday again urged the United States to withdraw its support for Kurdish YPG fighters or face "confrontation" with its troops. Erdogan has repeatedly called on President Donald Trump to remove American troops from Syria.

Relations between Washington and Ankara hit a new low last month when the United States and its Kurdish partners announced the creation of a border force in northern Syria to prevent Turkish and American-backed forces from clashing.

Dillon said the patrols will continue until the military is directed otherwise.

In a phone call with Erdogan on Wednesday, Trump pressed Turkey to curtail its military assault and warned it to "avoid any actions that might risk conflict" between the two countries, according to the White House. Turkey disputed the White House account.

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson   Email Natalie | Full Bio | RSS
Natalie Johnson is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she was a news reporter at the Daily Signal. Johnson’s work has been featured in outlets such as Newsweek, Fox News and Drudge Report. She graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in political science and journalism. She can be reached at johnson@freebeacon.com. Her twitter handle is @nataliejohnsonn.

×
THE MORNING BEACON DAILY NEWSLETTER
MAKES IT EASIER TO STAY INFORMED
Get the news that matters most to you, delivered straight to your inbox daily.

Register today!
  • Grow your email list exponentially
  • Dramatically increase your conversion rates
  • Engage more with your audience
  • Boost your current and future profits