A senior advisor to Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said US troops working with Kurdish forces in northern Syria were in danger of being hit by Turkish soldiers at the border.
Experienced aide Ilnur Cevik, during an interview to Turkish radio station CRI TURK on Wednesday, said that if the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and US military advisors “go too far, our forces would not care if American armour is there, whether armoured carriers are there,” adding, “All of a sudden, by accident, a few rockets can hit them.”
Asked to clarify if his comments meant that US presence in Syria would be in danger from Turkish airstrikes, Cevik said bluntly that they would.
However the presidential advisor went on social media later on Wednesday to say that he had been misunderstood.
“Turkey has never and will never hit its allies anywhere, and that includes the U.S. in Syria,” he said in a tweet from his personal account.
Relations between Ankara and Washington were further strained recently after Turkish airstrikes targeted the headquarters of the Kurdish YPG, an important US ally in Syria, killing at least 20 fighters.
Skirmishes between the YPG and Turkish forces continued at the border for three days after the multiple airstrikes, leading to US deployment at three points between Turkey and northern Syria’s Kurdish-led autonomous Rojava region, to stop clashes.
Turkey views the YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting a three-decade insurgency against Ankara for Kurdish autonomy.
Turkey has said it will not allow a “Kurdish corridor” to emerge in the region.
Meanwhile the YPG has declared that it will retaliate against any Turkish attacks, saying that it had tried to prevent conflict during the past year by not responding to Turkish artillery fire.