US Defence Secretary: We want to work with both Turkey and Kurds in anti-terror campaign

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Kurds bury YPG fighters killed during clashes against ISIS in Aleppo. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

ERBIL The United States wants to work both with the Kurdish and Turkish forces in war on terrorism in Syria, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said.

Carter’s statement comes despite Turkey’s insistence that the Kurdish forces in Syria [YPG, SDF] are “terrorists”.  

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had told U.S. President Barack Obama that Turkey will fight ISIS and the PYD [political leadership of YPG], seeing them both as ‘terrorists’, this while the co-head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim told ARA News that Turkey continues to support ISIS.

Nevertheless, the US says that they will continue to support both.

“We’ve talked to all the parties, and what worked out with them is that they’re both trying to combat ISIL and that’s the American interest as well,” Carter said, using another acronym for ISIS. 

“We want to work with both of them. We know they have their difficulties with one another, but countering ISIL we think need to come first for all of us,” he said.

Therefore, the US will try to work to prevent clashes between the Kurds and Turkish-backed rebels in Syria, according to Carter.

“And so we’re working with them to make sure that they can each do what they are trying to do without coming into a collision one with the other.  So we’ve been doing that and we’ll continue to do that,” he said. 

Furthermore, US Secretary of Defense suggested that the Kurdish element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has withdrawn from the east of the Euphrates. “(…) the Kurdish element of that force will be withdrawing east of the Euphrates.  And I think that will alleviate some Turkish concern there and help the SDF to prepare for what comes next, which is Raqqa,” he said, in reference to the upcoming anti-ISIS operation in Syria’s northeastern Raqqa province.

“And the Turks for their part to keep their forces associated with themselves north of the Sager River,” he added.

The US top official hopes that this separation of the Kurdish forces east of the Euphrates, and the Turkish forces north of Sajur river, will prevent clashes between its allies.

“There will be a physical separation, which I think will be reassuring to both sides.  So we want to reinforce that and the need, which I think we all three of us share, to combat ISIL together.  But I’m sure I’ll be discussing that with [Turkey’s Defence] Minister [Fikri] Isik,” Carter said.

On Wednesday, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) accused the Turkish army and their proxy groups that they continued their aggression against Rojava and northern Syria, reporting the death of at least one YPG fighter after being shot by Turkish troops near Ein Diwar in the Derik area.

The fighter was shot on 6 September at 22:00 hours by Turkish troops. “The attack resulted in the injury of two of our fighters, and despite all attempts by doctors, one of our fighters was martyred from his injuries,” leadership of the Kurdish YPG forces said in a statement.

The YPG said that the Turkish army attacked Kurdish troops not only near Jarabulus, but also in villages near Afrin, Kobane, and Derik. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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