The Pentagon warned Syria's Bashar Assad regime Thursday not to carry out an offensive against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have been holding the northeastern parts of the country under its control following the break out of the civil war in 2011."Any interested party in Syria should understand that attacking U.S. forces or our coalition partners will be a bad policy," Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, said during a press conference.
In an interview with Russia's state-owned Russia Today TV aired on Thursday, Assad said they will use force to retake the areas under SDF control, which is predominantly led by the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), if diplomacy fails, calling U.S. forces to leave country.
"The only problem left in Syria is the SDF," Assad told the channel, adding that he saw "two options."
"The first one: We started now opening doors for negotiations because the majority of them are Syrians; supposedly they like their country; they don't like to be puppets to any foreigners," Assad said in English. "We have one option: To live with each other as Syrians. If not, we're going to resort... to liberating those areas by force."The SDF is an umbrella group predominantly led by the YPG. It controls nearly 25 percent of Syria. The terrorist organization has been militarily supported by Washington - one of the several reasons behind the recent deterioration in the Turkish-U.S. relations.
After McKenzie's remarks, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White later clarified that the U.S. did not want to get involved in Syria's civil war and would offer protection only in areas where the SDF are fighting Daesh.
Although the U.S. recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization, it denies the group's connection with the YPG and the SDF despite all the proof suggesting otherwise. In a show of support to the terrorist organization, U.S. troops are currently deployed in Syria's SDF-held areas.
In April, U.S. President Donald Trump said he wanted to pull American troops out of Syria. However, numerous U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, objected to the idea. Mattis said on April 30 that Washington and its allies would not want to withdraw troops out of Syria before diplomats established peace in the region.
With the backing of Russia and Iran, the Assad regime recently recovered swathes of territories and now controls the majority of Syria. Yet, regime forces still don't have complete control at the borders with Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.