Washington’s interest in Syria ‘laser focused’ on ISIS – Pentagon official

The United States wants to keep its focus in Syria, and the focus of its Syrian Kurdish allies on countering the Islamic State (ISIS), Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

Counter-ISIS efforts are “what we're there for. It is the sole purpose that we are there for”, Kirby said.

Kirby refused to “speculate about Turkish actions” in Syria, when asked about a possible Turkish incursion into the Kurdish-held areas in the war-torn country’s northern regions in the near future, and added: “But we obviously don’t want to see any actions by anyone that diverts our ability inside the Coalition –and it is a Coalition– to keep going after ISIS.”

All members of the international coalition against ISIS “have a shared interest in not seeing ISIS grow or get more capable inside Syria,” Kirby said.

On whether the United States would assist their allied Syrian Kurds, namely the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Kirby said, “Our focus in Syria is counter-ISIS.”

“We do everything we can to continue to disrupt and defeat (ISIS) efforts inside Syria,” Kirby said, responding to another question on a possible Turkish operation.

On the same day, Sky News Arabia cited a U.S. Defence Department official as saying the Biden adminisraiton would “not allow Turkey to threaten our Kurdish allies”.

Earlier on Monday, former U.S. envoy to Syria James Jeffrey had told U.S.-based Arabic network Al Hurra that any move by Turkey in northeast Syria would “push the Turkish forces to clash with the American forces”.  Jeffrey also denied that U.S. President Joe Biden had greenlighted another operation during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the G20 summit in Rome.

The United States cannot abandon its partnership with the SDF “because it is very effective against ISIS and terrorist elements that still pose a threat”, Jeffrey said.

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