POST TIME: 5 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Turkey warns US troops over Syria clash risk

Turkey warns US troops over Syria clash risk

ISTANBUL: Turkey yesterday threatened to expand its operation against Kurdish militia in Syria to the town of the Manbij and even east of the Euphrates, warning that American soldiers risked being targeted in the area if they wore enemy uniform, reports AFP.

Turkey on January 20 launched the “Olive Branch” operation in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, fighting Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara sees as a terror group.

With the YPG a key ally of Washington in the battle against jihadists, the campaign has seen a fellow NATO partner of the United States fighting an openly US-backed and US-armed force. Beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, the YPG also controls the key strategic town of Manbij to the east and then a long strip of territory east of the Euphrates up to the Iraqi border.

“If they (the YPG) do not withdraw from Manbij, then we will go to Manbij, we will go east of the Euphrates,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told CNN-Turk.

American troops have no presence in and around Afrin but they are present in Manbij and east of the Euphrates, where they have assisted the YPG in the fight against IS.

Bozdag emphasised that Turkey wanted no confrontation with American troops but said US soldiers risked being caught up in clashes if they appeared in uniforms of the YPG.

This appeared to be a reference to past images of American troops in northern Syria showing them with YPG insignia.