Amid speculations of Turkey preparing for a military action on the territory of Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is urging its allies to focus on fighting the terror group.
On March 29, Turkey concluded the 7 months-long Operation Euphrates Shield that was conducted on the territory of Syria with the assistance of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). During the campaign designed to clear northern Syria of ISIS fighters and block the advance of Kurdish militias, Turkey established control over some 5,000 square kilometers of territory, seizing cities of Al Bab and Jarabulus.
Earlier this month, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said next stages of Turkish operations would unfold on the territories of both Syria and Iraq.
Turkish media has been suggesting that Ankara is preparing to launch the Operation Tigris Shield against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in Iraqi Sinjar, Qandil and Dohuk. The beginning of the offensive is reportedly scheduled for late April or May.
“We encourage all forces to remain focused on the current counter-ISIS fight and concentrate their efforts on defeating ISIS,” a coalition spokesperson told The Globe Post when asked about Ankara’s potential advances in Iraq.
The spokesperson said the coalition continues to closely coordinate operations with such partners as the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey.
This cooperation is designed to deliver “a lasting defeat to our common enemy, ISIS,” the spokesperson concluded.
The US Department of Defense has underscored that any action on the territory of Iraq should be approved by Baghdad.
“We strongly support Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity. Any foreign military activities in Iraq must have the consent of the Iraqi government,” Defense Department’s spokesperson Laura Seal told The Globe Post.
The US-led coalition considers the Kurdish fighters one of the most capable forces in fighting ISIS. However, Ankara has designated Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighting under the SDF umbrella, a terror group over its links to PKK, which is also outlawed in Turkey.
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