The US military is setting up a number of observation posts in Northeast Syria in an effort to prevent the remnants of Daesh forces in the central Euphrates River valley from making their way into Turkey, CDN news portal reported on Tuesday, citing the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.
“These observation posts will provide additional transparency and will better enable Turkey’s protection from ISIS [Daesh] elements”, Army Colonel Sean Ryan said, speaking via teleconference from Baghdad.
He added that the US-led coalition and its partners would continue fighting the terrorists in both Iraq and Syria and degrade their capabilities.
Ryan also said that the US and Turkish forces are on the ground near Syria’s Manbij denying terrorists access to the area.
‘This stability is the direct result of the focus of our NATO ally Turkey and through cooperation with local officials from Manbij’, he noted, adding that Daesh remnants were fortifying their positions and digging in for a protracted fight.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis announced the decision to establish observation posts at a news briefing last week following a series of consultations with Turkey.
During the consultations, however, Ankara conveyed discomfort with the establishment of US observation points in Syria which many in Turkey see as an attempt by Washington to legitimise the existence of Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
On Saturday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that during a recent visit to Canada he had told US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford and other US officials that setting up the posts would have a very negative impact on perceptions of the United States in Turkey.
Can Acun, a Turkish expert on Syria, has told the newspaper Daily Sabah that Washington’s latest moves, including placing $12-million bounties on three key PKK leaders and the establishment of observation points under the pretext of addressing Turkey’s security concerns over YPG could be an attempt to prevent a Turkish military operation.
The US-led coalition of more than 70 countries is conducting military operations against Daesh in Iraq with the cooperation of the Iraqi government.
At the end of 2017, Baghdad declared victory over the terrorist organisation, noting, however, that the fight against remaining cells would continue.