ISTANBUL — The United States on Monday criticized clashes between Turkish forces and some opposition groups in northern Syria as "unacceptable," calling on all armed actors in the fighting to stand down and focus on battling ISIS.
"We want to make clear that we find these clashes — in areas where [ISIS] is not located — unacceptable and a source of deep concern," Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter ISIS, said on his official Twitter account, citing a defense department statement.
"We call on all armed actors to stand down... the U.S. is actively engaged to facilitate such deconfliction and unity of focus on [ISIS], which remains a lethal and common threat," he added.
At the start of Turkey's now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from ISIS militants.
Since then, Turkish forces have mainly pushed into areas controlled by forces aligned to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition that encompasses the Kurdish YPG militia and which has been backed by Washington to fight the jihadists.
NATO member Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.
A group monitoring the tangled, five-year-old conflict in Syria said 41 people were killed by Turkish air strikes as Turkish forces pushed south on Sunday. Turkey denied there were any civilian deaths, saying 25 Kurdish militants were killed.
Turkish officials say their goal in Syria is to drive out ISIS but also to ensure Kurdish militia fighters do not expand the territory they already control along Turkey's border.