Pentagon says its 'not aware' of civilian casualties in Afrin

AP Photo
AP Photo

The Pentagon said Monday it has no information about civilian casualties in Syria's Afrin region.

"I am not aware of any incidents regarding what you just specified, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters who were asking about allegations by PKK-affiliated People's Protection Forces (YPG) terrorists that Turkey's military operation there had caused civilian deaths.

Manning was speaking at a daily press conference at the Pentagon.

He said Washington continues to work with Turkish authorities toward finding the best solution in the region.

"They (Turkey) are our NATO ally," Manning said when asked if the Pentagon is concerned about the conflict between the U.S. and Turkey if Ankara enters Manbij following its Afrin operation.

"So we go through great measures to make sure that we deconflict and they understand where our forces are," he added.

"The coalition's only official relationship in Manbij is with the Manbij Military Council, which was created to defend Manbij from ISIS (Daesh). But as far as for our ally Turkey, we are in close and continued communication with them."

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch earlier this month to remove PKK-affiliated YPG and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

In response to a question from an Anadolu Agency correspondent about an allegation that a female YPG suicide bomber killed two Turkish troops and destroyed a Turkish tank in Afrin, another Pentagon spokesperson, Adrian Rankine-Galloway, said the Pentagon does not have additional information on the allegation.

Recalling that Kurdish forces operating in Afrin are not part of the U.S.-led collation, Rankine-Galloway also stated that the U.S. does not operate with those PKK/YPG elements there.

"Kurdish forces who engage with Turkish forces in the Afrin region do not have any affiliation with the U.S.-led coalition whatsoever," he added.

The U.S. has supported the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state. The terror campaign has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the PKK-led terrorist umbrella group SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.

The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. Since the mid-1980s, the terrorist group has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.

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