Afrin not part of Syria coalition mission: US spokesman

US-led coalition is fighting Daesh in certain areas of Syria, not including Afrin, Ryan Dillon tells Anadolu Agency

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON 

The mission of the U.S.-led international coalition is to defeat Daesh in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, which does not include the northern Syrian area of Afrin, according to the coalition spokesperson.

"The Coalition's mission has not changed: to defeat ISIS [Daesh] in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability," Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition, officially known as Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said in a written statement sent to Anadolu Agency.

His statement came in a response to Anadolu Agency's question as to whether the U.S. or the coalition would support Afrin, where a Turkish operation is being seen as imminent, based on statements by Turkish leaders.

"We are not operating in Afrin. We are supporting our partners in defeating remaining ISIS [Daesh] pockets along the Middle Euphrates River Valley, specifically in areas north of Abu Kamal, on the eastern side of the Euphrates River," Dillon added.

Dillon spurred controversy on Sunday by announcing that the coalition will establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF in Syria -- a U.S.-backed group that is largely controlled and manned by the PYD/PKK terrorist group, an offshoot of the terrorist PKK.

Turkey slammed the announcement, saying that PYD/PKK poses a threat to Turkey's national security and that it would take all necessary measures.

There are currently 8,000-10,000 terrorists in Aleppo’s Afrin region -- a region bordering Turkey's Hatay and Kilis provinces -- which has been besieged by PYD/PKK terrorists.

After Turkey pointed out that the region was a nest for terrorists, the terrorists have taken to hiding out in shelters and pits in residential areas of Afrin. 

Pentagon: 'No assistance' going to Afrin

Additionally, the Pentagon on the same day said the U.S. does not support the PYD/PKK elements in Afrin and does not see them as part of their fight against Daesh.

"We don’t consider them as part of our Defeat ISIS [Daesh] operations which is what we are doing there and we do not support them,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Anadolu Agency in an email. 

“We are not involved with them at all," he added.

"There is no train-advise and assist program going [on] in Afrin. 

“Elements out of SDF areas are not receiving any train-advice assists from us. The groups that we support are exclusively are involved in operations countering Daesh", he added.

Calling on "all parties" to avoid escalatory actions, he also said the U.S. is not part of the Turkish operation in Afrin. 

Turkey has long protested U.S. support for the PYD/PKK, while Washington has brushed off its status as a PKK offshoot, calling it a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians, including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.