McCain deplores Turkish attacks on Syrian Kurds whom US 'respects'

A State Department official was answering a Kurdistan24 question regarding the ongoing Turkish airstrikes on YPG in the face of the upcoming operation to liberate Raqqa from the IS in Syria.

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States (Kurdistan24) - A State Department spokesperson said on Thursday the US respected sacrifices Syrian Kurds have made in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

"We obviously respect and admire the sacrifices that [the Syrian Kurds] have made. And we recognize that they have been brave and courageous in the field," said the spokesperson John Kirby.

Kirby was answering a Kurdistan24 question during a daily press briefing in Washington regarding the ongoing Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in face of an upcoming operation to liberate the IS capital of Raqqa in Syria.

Turkey has been bombing Kurdish positions with airstrikes and artillery since last week when, much to the dismay of the Turkish leadership, the US General Stephen Townsend who oversees anti-IS operations announced YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) participation in Raqqa operation.

When a Kurdistan24 correspondent asked Kirby whether a Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation was not needed to present the YPG with a viable reason to fight for Raqqa, he answered the US has had discussions with Turkish leaders on "their apprehensions and concerns" about the Kurds and once again urged focusing on fighting the IS.

Kirby also dismissed Syrian Kurds' fears of "abandonment" by the US voiced in a Tuesday Washington Post op-ed by David Ignatius who argued that further Turkish attacks could damage Kurdish-American alliance in Syria.


Meanwhile John McCain, the Republican US Senator from Arizona and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, urged Turkey to stop its attacks on Kurdish fighters in Syria.

In a Thursday statement released on his Senate website, McCain described continued Turkish airstrikes on Syrian Kurds as "destabilizing and troubling."

"These Kurdish fighters have shown themselves to be willing and capable partners in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, and our continued cooperation serves the national security interests of both the United States and countries in the region, including Turkey," said McCain who urged the Turkish Government to refrain from further attacks against the YPG.


Editing by Ava Homa

(Laurie Mylroie contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.)