UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned on Thursday that Turkey was “moving in the wrong direction” through its military incursion into Syria and its agreement with Russia to conduct joint patrols in a “safe zone” there.
“Turkey puts us all in a terrible situation” through its military operation in Syria this month to counter Kurdish forces allied with the United States in the war against ISIS, Esber told a news conference in Brussels ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
He stressed that it is the responsibility of NATO currently “to work together to strengthen our partnership with them and return them to the direction (correct) to return ally of the past strong and reliable.”
The Turkish military operation in Syria is expected to dominate the two-day NATO meeting at a time when OSCE diplomats said they had “frank” talks with Ankara representatives.
An agreement with Russia that followed the operation to remove Kurdish forces, which Ankara considers “terrorist” factions linked to the PKK, has also raised concerns.
But despite its isolation within NATO, Turkey’s strategic position between Europe and the Middle East is of paramount importance, prompting other NATO members to criticize Ankara.
Esber, in turn, defended the US decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria, leaving open the way for Turkey to carry out its operation.
He said that “the US decision to withdraw less than 50 soldiers from the area of attack was made after it became clear to us that Turkish President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan decided (to carry out the operation) across the border,” adding that Washington could not “endanger the lives of these soldiers” or ” Start a fight with an ally in NATO.”
The secretary acknowledged “some criticism” of the US withdrawal, but noted that “no one has yet offered a better alternative to what the United States has done. We are trying to maintain very strategic prospects.”
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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