U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned from “devastating” results if Turkey launch any attack on northeastern Syria during a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sideline of the NATO Ministerial.
“Secretary Pompeo expressed support for ongoing negotiations regarding northeast Syria, while warning of the potentially devastating consequences of unilateral Turkish military action in the region,” a statement by the Secretary of State reads.
Turkey has been threatening to invade northeastern Syria for several months now. The strategic region is controlled by the US-led coalition and a Kurdish-led force, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Last month, the Turkish military established a command center in southeastern province of Sanliurfa that will manage any possible military operation in northeastern Syria. Ankara views the SDF as a threat to its national security and recognize some of its components, like the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as terrorist groups.
“We will definitely solve Syria issue on the field, if possible, and not on the table, as the first work after elections,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an election rally in Istanbul on March 30, few hours before the inauguration of the new command center.
Despite Turkey’s threats, the U.S. is not apparently backing down. Earlier this year, Washington revealed a new plan to keep 200 troops in northeastern Syria for the long term. The U.S. troops will be a part of a multination force that could establish a safe zone to protect the Kurdish-held areas.
Pompeo’s new warning will likely further escalate the tension between the U.S. and Turkey. The relationship between the two countries has never been worse in the recent years. Beside the disagreement over northeastern Syria, Washington is also trying to prevent Ankara from purchasing the advanced S-400 air defense system from Moscow.