Pentagon issues warning after Turkish airstrikes threaten US troops in Syria

The Pentagon urged Turkey to abandon its plan to invade Syria because the operation could endanger US troops in the country.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressed his condolences to his counterpart, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, over the loss of life in explosion in istanbul this happened last month and sparked hostilities in Syria.

But Austin stressed that the airstrikes — and the impending ground invasion of Syria — are directly threatens the safety of American personnel works in Syria.

“Secretary Austin called for a de-escalation and shared the department’s strong opposition to a new Turkish military operation in Syria,” Austin and Akar said in a statement.

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Turkey launched a series of airstrikes in northern Syria after the November 1 bombing. 13, which left six people dead and at least 80 injured.

This was stated by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a press briefing after a virtual meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon.  February 16, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.

This was stated by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a press briefing after a virtual meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon. February 16, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Turkish authorities arrested a Syrian woman of Arab descent, whom they associated with Kurdish militiasbut the militias denied any involvement.

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Turkish President Tayyip Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorized a military response in Syria called “Operation Sword-Claw”, which aimed to destroy the YPG and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, May 14.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, May 14.
(AP Photo/Burkhan Ozbiliji)

Last week, a Kurdish general told Fox News that NATO ally Turkey is planning a massive ground invasion of Syria to target the same Kurdish groups who collaborated with the US military in their campaign against ISIS.

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U.S. military officials have also expressed concern that the operation could eventually enable an estimated 10,000 ISIS detainees to escape their detention.

Women walk through the Al-Hol camp, which is home to about 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group, many of whom are foreign nationals, in Hasaka province, Syria, May 1, 2021.

Women walk through the Al-Hol camp, which is home to about 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group, many of whom are foreign nationals, in Hasaka province, Syria, May 1, 2021.
(AP Photo/Baderhan Ahmad, file)

Brigadier Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday: “Recent air strikes in Syria have directly threatened the safety of US personnel who are working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and detain more 10,000 ISIS detainees.”

Ryder noted that “immediate de-escalation is needed to focus on the mission to defeat ISIS and ensure the safety of personnel on the ground involved in the mission to defeat ISIS.”

One military official said that Syria presents ideal conditions for ISIS to continue to build up its ranks and regain its former combat capability: Eric Kurilla visited the Al-Khol refugee camp in Syria and said: ISIS tried to use conditions in the camp as a means of attracting new recruits for their cause.

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“The SDF mission to clear the camp of ISIS fighters continues: this is an important large-scale operation that will make the camp safer for all residents,” Kurilla said after his visit. “We have already seen how ISIS members keep women and girls in chains inside the camp, torture camp residents and seeking to spread their vile ideology.”

Benjamin Weinthal of Fox News contributed to this report.