Afrin not part of Syria coalition mission: US spokesman

Afrin not part of Syria coalition mission: US spokesman

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Afrin not part of Syria coalition mission: US spokesman

The mission of the international coalition led by the United States is to defeat the Islamic State, Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, which does not include the northern Syrian area of Afrin, according to the coalition spokesperson.

“The coalition’s mission has not changed: to defeat ISIL in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability,” Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition, officially known as Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), has said in a written statement.

His statement came in a response to Anadolu Agency’s question as to whether the U.S. or the coalition would support Afrin, where a Turkish operation is being seen as imminent, based on statements by Turkish leaders.

“We are not operating in Afrin. We are supporting our partners in defeating remaining ISIL pockets along the Mid-dle Euphrates River Valley, specifically in areas north of Abu Kamal, on the eastern side of the Euphrates River,” Dillon added.

Dillon spurred controversy on Jan. 14 by announcing that the coalition would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—a U.S.-backed group largely controlled and manned by the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey slammed the announcement, saying the YPG poses a threat to Turkey’s national security and that it would take all necessary measures for its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Pentagon: ‘No assistance’ going to Afrin

Additionally, the Pentagon on the same day said the U.S. does not support the PYD/PKK elements in Afrin and does not see them as part of their fight against ISIL.

“We don’t consider them as part of our defeat ISIL operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Anadolu Agency in an email.

“We are not involved with them at all,” Rankine-Galloway added.

“There is no train, advise and assist program going [on] in Afrin,” he said.

“Elements out of SDF areas are not receiving any train, advise and assist from us. The groups that we support exclusively are involved in operations countering ISIL,” the spokesman added.

Calling on “all parties” to avoid escalatory actions, he also said the U.S. is not part of the Turkish operation in Afrin.