In response to a question during a press conference on Wednesday, the US Department of Defense Press Secretary John F. Kirby said that the partnership of the US with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was based only on the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and it continued only because the threat continued.
The question came from a reporter from the Turkish state news agency.
“So the SDF leader, Mazloum [SDF top commander Mazloum Abdi], talked to Al-Monitor, and said that the US has officially given them assurances against the Turkish operation in Syria. Have you given the SDF any assurance against Turkish operation?” the reporter asked.
Indicating that he didn’t know anything about the conversation referred to, Kirby replied:
“I know you get tired of me saying this, but it’s important to say it: Our partnership with the SDF in Syria is based on one thing and one thing only, and that’s going after ISIS, and that partnership continues because that threat continues.”
The reporter then asked Kirby if it wasn’t a problem for the Defense Department to have a US general shake hands with someone who said he was inspired by Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a ‘terrorist organisation’ both in Turkey and the US.
“During the same conversation, he [Mazloum] says that the ideology of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan inspires him and his group in governing this whole area,” the reporter said. “How could a US general shake hand with such a person saying that he is inspired by the ideology of the terrorist group? Isn’t it a problem for the Pentagon at all?”
“Our focus work, working with the SDF, is about the ISIS threat that remains in Syria,” Kirby answered. “We’re going to continue at that work. That’s important work, and I’m just not going to speculate about this conversation.”