US Urges Turkey to Focus on ISIS, Not Attack Syrian Kurds

Tillerson: US Owes Turkey an Explanation on Border Force

Several days of Turkish threats to attack the US-backed Kurdish forces in the Afrin District of Syria have finally gotten a reaction from the US State Department, which says they think Turkey should remain focused on fighting ISIS.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Calls for Turkey to “focus on ISIS” have successfully kept them away from the Kurdish YPG for months, but with ISIS virtually defeated in Syria, Turkey likely believes they’ve already waited out that excuse.

Turkey had already given the US something of an out on this earlier in the week, suggesting they’d withhold the attack if the US abandoned its plan to create a new border force, and stop backing the YPG in general.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he believes the US owes Turkey “an explanation,” and that they won’t be building a border force, though this assurance came with the same weasel words other officials offered earlier in the week, that the 30,000-strong force on the border is in some technical sense neither new nor an exclusively border-focused force.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.