‘No sign’ that Turkish forces are moving to Manbij – Pentagon
Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White said that the Pentagon has stressed to Turkey that it must “limit” its so-called Operation Olive Branch offensive on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria, during a press conference in Washington DC on Thursday.
“We have stressed to the Turks to limit the operation, it is a distraction. We’ve also asked them to restrain themselves and to avoid civilian casualties at all cost,” said White.
However, Director of the Joint Staff Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie went on to acknowledge that Ankara has ligitimate security concerns in the region; “we recognise that they have significant issues up in the area where they’re conducting those operations,” he said. He went on to confirm that there is “no sign” that Turkish forces are moving towards Manbij.
Both White and McKenzie noted that focus should be kept on the combined effort to rid Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) from the region.
Turkey launched its offensive against Kurdish YPG militia on January 20. Turkey views the YPG, which is active in northern Syria, as an extension of the banned militant group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose leader is Abdullah Öcalan.