The U.S. declared on Tuesday that it has completed the establishment of observation posts (OPs) in Syria despite Turkey's discomfort and criticisms over the decision.
U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Col. Rob Manning issued a press release on Tuesday, stating that the establishment of observation points in Syria has been finalized and Washington will be coordinating with Turkey its security efforts in the border region. "We take Turkish security concerns seriously and they are committed to coordinating their efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria," the release said.
In response, Turkey reiterated its concern over the observation posts of the U.S. in northeast Syria, saying that the posts will serve as shields for the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG). "It is clear that the purpose of U.S. observation points [in Syria] is not to protect our country from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday. Last month, the U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced that the country will set up observation points in several locations along the northern Syrian-Turkish border to "address NATO ally Turkey's legitimate security concerns" over the U.S. support for YPG forces.
However, Ankara is deeply perturbed by the decision of Washington since many regarded the move as an attempt to distinguish and legitimize the YPG's existence in Syria. Many experts have commented that the OPs were planned and established with the aim of protecting the YPG from a likely Turkish operation.
Last week, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also conveyed Ankara's call for abandoning its plans to the U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey.