Turkey launched its massive airstrikes against terrorist PKK targets in northern Iraq with only 10 minutes' notice to its American partners, U.S. sources told Fox News on Monday.
The report contests the previous narrative on Turkish action against the group asserting the U.S. allowed the airstrikes in return for opening Turkish bases to anti-ISIS coalition warplanes.
"A Turkish officer came into the Combine Air and Space Operations Center, and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately. We were outraged." said the U.S. military source, according to the report.
The source said they had U.S. Special Forces training Kurdish Peshmerga forces close to the locations where Turkey was bombing and they didn't know who the Turkish jets were, their signs and what frequencies they were using or their altitude. Following the U.S. military officials' objections, the two parties agreed on information sharing and the Americans gave large grids of areas to avoid bombing their Special Forces.
Many commentators in Washington have criticized the recent agreement on Turkish bases between the U.S. and Turkey, saying the deal provided Ankara cover to carry out attacks against the extremist group the PKK, which its Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), is coordinating effectively with anti-ISIS coalition forces on the ground.
A Chatham House paper also claimed that Turkey's price for joining the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was a license to target the PKK. However, if true, this report confirms Turkish officials' previous statements that Turkey only notified its allies but did not seek their approval for the operations.
"There is no connection between the United States' and Turkey's deeper cooperation against ISIS and Turkey's operations against the PKK. In fact, the United States and Turkey are finalizing technical details for Turkey's full inclusion in the coalition to counter-ISIS operations," said Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokesperson in a written statement. She also added that Turkey and the U.S. are in close contact and coordination with the Turks. "Turkey did notify us of the strikes in advance. What is most important is to break the cycle of violence. The PKK must stop its attacks in Turkey," she said.
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