U.S. to condemn any escalation that could jeopardize ceasefire in northern Syria

People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters head a convoy of U.S. military vehicles in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017. (Reuters photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States said on Tuesday it will condemn any escalation that might jeopardize ceasefire lines in northeast Syria, as Turkey threatens to launch a new cross-border operation into areas under the Kurdish forces. 

“We remain deeply concerned about discussions of potential increased military activity in northern Syria, and in particular, its impact on the civilian population there,” Spokesman of the U.S. State Department Ned Price said in a press conference.

On May 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would launch a cross-border operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a “terrorist group” linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Price said the United States continues to support the maintenance of a current ceasefire lines, calling on all sides to respect the truce and work to towards a political solution to the conflict.

“We would condemn any escalation that has the potential to jeopardize that,” Price added.

“We believe that any effort to do otherwise could be counterproductive to our goals to bring about an end to the broader conflict in Syria, but also the tremendous progress that we’ve made together, including with our Kurdish partners, in the effort against ISIS that has achieved such important steps in recent years,” he added.

Price also said Washington expected Ankara to live up to the October 2019 joint statement between the U.S. and Turkey, including to halt offensive operations in northeastern Syria.

“We are concerned that any new offensive would further undermine regional stability and would put at risk those hard-won gains in the campaign against ISIS.”

On Monday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone with Erdogan’s chief adviser Ibrahim Kalin, reiterating the importance of refraining from escalation in Syria to preserve existing ceasefire lines and avoid further destabilization.

Ankara has conducted three incursions into northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometers of land and pushing some 30 km deep into the country, in operations targeting mainly the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG forces.

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