US urges Turkey to de-escalate in Syria to protect civilians, support defeat of ISIS

US State Department spokesman Ned Price, AFP

The United States on Monday urged a de-escalation in Syria, where Ankara has carried out airstrikes and is threatening to launch a ground offensive, in order to protect civilians.

“The United States expresses its sincere condolences for the loss of civilian life in Syria and Turkey. We urge de-escalation in Syria to protect civilian life and support the common goal of defeating ISIS,” US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a press statement.

Turkey on Sunday carried out airstrikes on the bases of Kurdish militants in northern Syria and Iraq that it said were being used to launch terrorist attacks on Turkish soil.

“We continue to oppose any uncoordinated military action in Iraq that violates Iraq’s sovereignty,” Price said.

The overnight raids in northern and northeastern Syria killed at least 31 people including Kurdish-Syrian journalist Isam Hesen Ebdullah, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They mainly targeted positions held by Syrian Kurdish forces.

The offensive, codenamed Operation Claw-Sword, comes a week after a blast in central İstanbul killed six people and wounded 81, an attack Turkey has blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a bloody insurgency there for decades and is designated as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, although it has denied involvement in the İstanbul explosion.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said Turkey could soon launch a ground operation in Syria, something he has been threatening to do since May.

The international community urged a “proportional” response in compliance with international law after Turkey’s airstrikes.

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