A Strong, But Managed Alliance

The US-Turkey relationship remains strong in the counter-ISIS fight, and the countries “work through issues as they arise,” including ongoing Turkish offensives against US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday. Carter’s comments follow reports that Turkish aircraft conducted 26 strikes against Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria on Thursday, with SDF claiming that the strikes killed up to 200 fighters, though other estimates put the number much lower, Reuters reported. The strikes occurred in areas recently taken by the Kurdish YPG, a group Turkey says is an extension of the PKK inside its country. The fighters were not US-backed, but were “close to and friendly with” those the US supports, a defense official told the news agency. Carter, in a Thursday briefing at the Pentagon, said he’s traveling to Turkey soon and “will have an opportunity to discuss that [along] with our counter-ISIL efforts.” The alliance is “very strong,” and though the US is still gathering facts about the reported strikes, the two countries work through issues, and “we’ve managed to do that successfully, and I expect that will continue.” (See also: Turkey, Kurdish Rebels Clash.)