US asked us to reconsider possible ground offensive in Syria: Turkey
The Turkish Defense Minister claims that Turkey is "the only country fighting ISIS" at close range.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that Turkey has warned its allies against supporting Kurdish groups for any reason, including in the pretext of fighting the ISIS terrorist organization.
Akar told reporters that "in the recent talks with the allied countries, necessary warnings and reminders were made to them about not to support the PKK/KCK/YPG, a bloody terrorist organization that attacks our borders and our people, for whatever reason, including the pretext of fighting Daesh/ISIS, not to allow the use of their own flag and uniforms that will make it difficult to distinguish them from terrorists, keeping terrorists away from their areas, and to cut off all relations with terrorist organizations as soon as possible."
Akar claimed that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has recently targeted civilian settlements and carried out "vile and bloody" attacks on innocent citizens.
He indicated that "the attitudes of those who perceive the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization as a danger from thousands of kilometers away, about our necessary measures against terrorist organizations that target our civilian settlements, including schools, and massacre our innocent people, are unacceptable."
Commenting on US statements on Ankara's possible ground offensive in Syria, Akar said, "They asked us to reevaluate. We also explained our sensitivities and wanted the promises to be kept. We stressed that they should understand us."
On November 20, Akar announced that Turkey launched the "Operation Claw-Sword" offensive against PKK militants in northern Iraq and Syria.
The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that the offensive was carried out in line with the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled the possibility of Ankara carrying out a ground offensive against the PKK.
Turkey's Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin recently told the Turkish news outlet A Haber that the ground offensive might be initiated at any moment, and Erdogan stressed that his country is committed to destroying the PKK "until its last militant is neutralized."
Akar argued that the PKK has increased its attacks aimed at disrupting the peace and stability in northern Syria, claiming that Turkey is "the only country fighting ISIS" at close range.
"Turkey, which has neutralized 4,500 radical Daesh terrorists in northern Iraq and Syria, is ready for all kinds of cooperation to combat Daesh and all other terrorist organizations," the Turkish Defense Minister said.
It is noteworthy that the US Department of Defense had expressed concern over the recent uptick in military activity in northern Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, citing the danger they pose to efforts to defeat ISIS.
Senior Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev also said Russia has asked Turkey to refrain from a full-scale ground offensive in Syria because such actions could trigger an escalation of violence.