WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (KUNA) -- The United States manifested concern about stepped-up Turkish military activities in northern Syria and indicated its worries over safety of US troops deployed in the areas largely inhabited by Kurdish communities.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke by phone Wednesday with Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar during which he voiced concern over the escalating military operations in northern Syria and Turkiye and called for de-escalation, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Secretary Austin "expressed concern over escalating action in northern Syria and Turkiye, including recent airstrikes, some of which directly threatened the safety of US personnel who are working with local partners in Syria to defeat IS (the so-called Islamic State group)." The statement added Austin "called for de-escalation and shared the Department's strong opposition to a new Turkish military operation in Syria" -- alluding to Ankara's plans to carry out a large-scale ground operation against the armed Kurds in northern Syria.
The Pentagon chief also offered condolences for the loss of life in the November 13 Istanbul attack and subsequent attacks in southern Turkiye.
Furthermore, Austin reaffirmed "the importance of the US-Turkiye strategic relationship." Turkish air forces have attacked strongholds for Kurdish groups in northern Syria in the aftermath of the Istanbul bombing. Ankara has also expressed desire to launch a wide-scale ground operation against the Kurdish groups in the northern Syrian territories. (end) si.rk