The United States fears Turkey will launch a new offensive in northern Syria that Washington has warned against, a senior American diplomat said on Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned by recent increased rhetoric from Turkey about potential military moves into the north of Syria,” Assistance Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf told a congressional hearing.
“We’ve stepped up our diplomatic engagements to attempt to stop that,” she said.
Asked if Ankara would give up such plans in light of US efforts, Leaf replied: “I couldn’t give you the assurance that they are going to.”
Turkey has repeatedly threatened since late May to conduct a new military operation in northern Syria to target Kurdish fighters.
Among them are the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which were supported by the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group.
Washington has repeatedly warned against such an offensive, which it believes risks destabilizing the region and jeopardizing the struggle against the jihadists.
The issue highlights the recurring tensions between NATO allies Washington and Ankara, at a time when Turkey opposes Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the Atlantic alliance.