Rahim Rashidi and Heather Nauert
MS NAUERT: Yeah, hi.
QUESTION: Thank you. Do you think that you have done enough to stop Erdogan’s attacks on the Kurds?
MS NAUERT: Well, that’s why we’re having such serious conversations with President Erdogan and others in the Turkish Government. We are urging Turkey to de-escalate, and that’s a serious thing. When we call on a country, especially a NATO ally, to de-escalate, we hope that they’re taking that – those concerns very seriously. President Trump’s readout of his call with President Erdogan, I would characterize that as fairly stern. I’d be happy to read part of that for you. But in the call he relayed concerns about escalating violence in Afrin; it risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria.
The President urged Turkey to de-escalate, to limit its military actions in that area, avoid civilian casualties. We note that a few people were just killed as a result, a few civilians were. That is a tremendous concern of ours. We’ve also asked for them to do more to try to avoid civilian casualties, increases in displaced people and refugees. We see that people now have to flee an area that was previously considered pretty stable. I mean, what a shame that is. Think about all that this country has been through, and now we’re looking at another disruption in northwestern Syria because Turkey has taken its eye off the ball, ISIS, and going after the PKK at this time? Again, I mention we share our concerns, but we want stability in Syria and we would eventually like to be able to have a political resolution, and have people be able to come back home. So we’re not just there yet.
In addition, I’d like to mention the President also urged Turkey to exercise caution and avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces. That is obviously an enormous concern for ours. The President reiterated that both nations must focus all parties and – on the shared goal of achieving the lasting defeat of ISIS. Thank you.