Speaking to CNBC in Doha Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu maintained that Ankara would not accept continued Kurdish paramilitary presence in the area. He argued that contrary to Pentagon warnings, Turkish actions would not endanger U.S. troops working alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that his government views as a primary enemy.
"We are not risking American soldiers' lives, our target is the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and YPG terrorist organization, as it was in Afrin," Cavusolgu said, referring to Turkey's January offensive against Kurdish paramilitary units in the Kurdish enclave of northern Syria. Erdogan's focus on the Kurds as a primary threat has complicated Washington's plans in Syria, which include relying on YPG fighters to push out the Islamic State.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan threatened on Friday that his forces would enter the northern Syrian town of Manbij if the U.S. doesn't remove the Kurdish fighters.
"But if America believes that they are the shelter, the protector of this terrorist organization, that is something else," the minister said. "And we have the channels between the militaries to avert any friendly fire or accident, we have this channel and we have good mil-to-mil (military-to-military) cooperation as well."