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INTERNATIONAL >Info given on strikes in Iraq, Syria: Turkish military

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The Turkish General Staff (TSK) has stated that Turkey’s air strike targeting the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and the Karachock Mountain in northeastern Syria on April 25 were within the knowledge of the civilian and military authorities of the related countries, in line with the agreed rules of engagement.

“Prior to the airstrike, the civil and military representatives of the countries concerned were contacted within the framework of the previously agreed rules, and necessary information was provided to them,” read a written statement published by TSK on May 3. 

Necessary precautions were taken in order not to harm civilians and soldiers from other countries, added the statement. 

The Turkish military had carried out air strikes against outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Iraq’s Sinjar and in northeastern Syria, saying it aimed to prevent the group from sending weapons and explosives for attacks inside Turkey. The air strikes in Syria targeted the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are backed by the United States and have been closing in on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) bastion of Raqqa.

The top U.S. military officer in Europe raised concerns about Turkish air strikes in Syria and Iraq during a meeting last week with Ankara’s chief of general staff in Turkey, a U.S. official said.

General Curtis Scaparrotti told General Hulusi Akar on April 28 that the strikes were not properly coordinated with the United States and its allies in their fight against ISIL, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command told Reuters.

U.S. military officials said last week that Turkey gave the U.S.-led coalition less than an hour of advance notice about the air strikes, an insufficient amount of time to ensure the safety of coalition forces on the ground.

“I can tell you General Scaparrotti did express his concern about recent air strikes conducted by Turkey in northern Syria and northern Iraq without proper coordination with the U.S. and coalition,” Captain Danny Hernandez said. “No more details will be provided in order to keep the discussions private.”

Turkey remains a strategic ally of the United States and a vital partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations, added Hernandez, who is based in Stuttgart, home of the U.S. European Command.

Russia has also criticized the air strikes, which it said violated the fundamental principles of intergovernmental relations.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that after the strikes Washington had expressed its concerns to the government of Turkey, saying they “were not approved by the coalition and had led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces” in the fight against ISIL.

May/03/2017

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