Tillerson says Turkey’s Afrin operation hampering coalition’s fight against ISIL
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Feb. 13 that Turkey’s military operation to remove People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the Syrian district of Afrin is hampering the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to maintain the focus on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
“As to the situation in Afrin, it has detracted from our fight to defeat ISIL in eastern Syria,” Tillerson said at a joint press conference in Kuwait with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah.
He said part of the YPG was moving toward Afrin to fight against Turkish forces and this situation affects the fight against ISIL and Washington wants to make sure Turkey is aware of this.
Tillerson is heading the U.S. delegation to the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL hosted by Kuwait.
The secretary of state’s itinerary includes a stop in Turkey, where he will meet with senior Turkish officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to clear YPG militants from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
‘Turkey’s military operation increases risks’
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats expressed concern Feb. 13 over Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria.
Speaking at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Coats said “Operation Olive Branch” “increases” risk to the U.S. forces in the area.
He said Turkey will seek to thwart “Kurdish ambitions” in the Middle East and claimed its current operation is “complicating” ongoing counter-ISIL activities in the region.