The United States has been in contact with both Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following Ankara’s announcement it will launch an operation against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to the east of the Euphrates River, Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson told Sputnik on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Ankara would soon begin a large-scale operation against the YPG.
"We are aware of Turkish statements about a planned offensive into northeast Syria and have been in touch with Turkey and the SDF to de-escalate the situation," Robertson said.
Robertson stressed that Turkey is a NATO ally and a key partner in the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS, ISIS) terrorist group, and the United States remains fully committed to Turkey’s border security.
"We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS," he added.
Robertson said US forces "remain fully committed" to the implementation of a roadmap for the city of Manbij agreed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Under the agreement US and Turkish forces are expected to start joint patrols of the Syrian city, which lies to the west of the Euphrates.
"US and Turkish soldiers have actively trained side-by-side for this critical mission, and we are confident that these patrols will be an important step forward on the Manbij Roadmap," Robertson added.
Robertson said the SDF remains a committed partner of the United States in the in the anti -IS fight.
"The campaign against ISIS is not over, and the fight remains very difficult," he said. "We are working closely with the SDF, who are in the midst of offensive operations against ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The SDF remains a committed partner against ISIS."
Robertson stressed, however, that US officials take Turkey's "legitimate security concerns" seriously and Washington remains committed to working with Ankara as a NATO ally and partner in the fight against IS.
"We are already working closely with Turkey to address the threat that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, poses to Turkish security," he noted.
In June 2018, Turkey and the United States adopted a roadmap envisaging the withdrawal of the US-backed YPG from the city.