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Turkish offensive in Syria 'unnecessary', says US official

The US official said Washington was not discussing a potential offensive [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 March, 2019

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The United States is not discussing an operation to fight a potential offensive alongside Turkey and Russia in a region of northeast Syria controlled by Kurdish-led fighters.
Washington views a Turkish offensive in northeast Syria with Turkey as unnecessary, a US official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The United States is not discussing an operation to fight a potential offensive alongside Turkey and Russia in a region of northeast Syria controlled by Kurdish-led fighters, the source confirmed, dismissing earlier reports to the contrary.

Turkey has already waged an offensive on the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria, causing tensions with the US, who have backed the Kurdish group in the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkey has battled the PKK for decades, while the Iranian security forces have also fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighbouring Iraq.

Earlier this month, similar reports confirmed Turkey and Iran are to carry out a joint operation against Kurdish rebels, according to Turkey's interior minister as quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency..

"God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), whom Ankara and Western allies designate as a terror organisation.

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against the Turkish state seeking independence, and more recently autonomy, for Turkey's Kurdish minority, that has left tens of thousands dead.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq's mountainous regions. 

The Kurds, who comprise 15 to 20 percent of Turkey's population, have a long history of oppression and violence at the hands of the Turkish state, which has only got worse since the official Kurdish-Turkish conflict began in 1978.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have called for the US to scrap plans for a full withdrawal from Syria, as President Donald Trump announced in December.

The SDF say they still need support for the remaining battles against IS, but also fear hostilities from neighbouring Turkey.

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