USA installed new outposts in Syria, according to Pentagon

Turkey vows to take on US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey's Armed Forces will launch a new military operation within three days in northern Syria against PYD/YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK terrorist organization, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trend reports referring to Turkish media.

Turkey has long criticized USA cooperation with the YPG/PKK against Daesh, pointing out that the YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK.

A USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions between the countries aren't public, said that unilateral military action in that part of Syria by any party would be unacceptable, and that the only way to address security issues of mutual concern is through collaboration between Turkey and the U.S.

"Coalition forces are working closely with the [SDF] who are in the midst of offensive operations against ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley", Robertson said.

The Kurdish YPG has been a main contingent within the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which drove ISIS from Raqqa, once the capital of the "caliphate", and is now pressing the last ISIS pocket in the town of Hajin on the Syria-Iraq border.

In reaction to the move, Erdogan said that Turkey was not being protected from terrorists but "terrorists were being protected" from possible action by Ankara. The evidence is clear. In October, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) suspended the offensive against Hajin when the Turkish military shelled the YPG in northeastern Syria.

In an informal session with Pentagon reporters last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis rejected Turkey's charges that the YPG was allied with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.

The crisis in US-Turkish relations, which already has put Turkey's economy under massive strain, also risks souring military ties between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, unleashing unknown geopolitical consequences.

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Turkey also warned that it is ready for a cross-border operation into the east of the Euphrates if the threat continues despite all the diplomatic efforts.

Erdogan's comments came a day after the Pentagon announced the setting up of USA observation posts on the northeast Syria border region meant to prevent altercations between the Turkish army and the YPG, despite calls from Ankara not to go ahead with the move. In November, Turkish and USA troops began joint patrols in northern Syria.

Turkey also has angered the USA and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies with its agreement to purchase advanced S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russian Federation. The official said the positions were clearly marked and any force attacking them "would definitely know they are attacking the United States". "We would find any such actions unacceptable", Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

"This is more a messaging effort to push back against the US claim that these border posts were for Turkey's protection, rather than, as is clearly the case, to protect the SDF from Turkey", he told VOA.

"Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as USA personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern", Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

There are about 2,000 US troops on the ground, USA defense officials say.

Erdogan had claimed that ISIS is no longer a threat in northern Syria during his speech on Wednesday.

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