US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Turkey has a legitimate security concern to launch the military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria.
“The Turks had a legitimate security concern… They have a terrorist threat to their south,” Pompeo said in an interview on Wednesday with PBS NewsHour when he was asked if Syrian Kurdish fighters are the US allies.
“We’ve been working to make sure that we did what we could do to prevent that terror threat from striking the people in Turkey,” he added.
US President Donald Trump on the same day also downplayed Washington’s partnership with the Syrian Kurdish militants, saying that his country had spent tremendous money on them and they were only fighting for their land in Syria, Xinhua news reported.
“They didn’t help us in the Second World War,” he said.
The remarks of Trump and Pompeo indicated that the administration’s abandoning of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a crucial ally of the US-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria for years.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey launched the military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of Syria after the US started pulling its troops out of there following a recent decision.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday declared the beginning of the military campaign to eliminate the Kurdish forces in Syria, which Ankara deems as terrorists and separatists.
Turkey regards the SDF as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers” Party (PKK), against which it has been waging a year-long war on its own territory.
The Trump administration’s decision on Syria has prompted unremitting criticism among the US lawmakers from both parties, who fear a resurgence of the IS and a humanitarian crisis following the Turkish military offensive.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday announced a framework for sanctions against Turkey for its ongoing military campaign in Syria.
The framework includes sanctions on senior Turkish government officials and prohibition of all the US military business and transactions with Turkey, among others.