“Clearly we believe any unilateral action by them (Turkey) would be unacceptable,” Mark Esper said. (File/AFP)
CAIRO – 7 August 2019: The United States would act against any military offensive by Turkey against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, the Pentagon has warned.
“Clearly we believe any unilateral action by them would be unacceptable,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday. “What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions.”
The warning came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed threats to drive US-backed Kurdish militia away from its border.
The US and Turkey have been in talks for months about a “safe zone” in northern Syria east of the Euphrates River.
Turkey is demanding a long strip of land extending 32 km into Syria, over which it would have full control.
“The US can never agree to that,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a US think tank.
James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria, further said, “Turkey wants a deeper zone than the one we think makes sense.”
On the other hand, the US has proposed a two-tiered zone, with a 5 km demilitarized strip and a further 9 km area cleared of heavy weapons.
Turkey was using the threat of an invasion to push for a deal on the border zone that suits its interests, said Jesse Marks, a Middle East analyst and Fulbright scholar at Cambridge University.
“Over the past six months of negotiations, Turkish invasion rhetoric has intensified in periods of political impasse,” he added.