US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied his country gave Turkey a “green light” for its offensive in northeast Syria.
In an interview with PBS News, Mr. Pompeo defended President Donald Trump’s widely criticised decision to withdraw US troops from the Turkey-Syria border.
He said reports the US had allowed Turkey to launch the offensive were “just false”.
Ankara had a “legitimate security concern” and “a terrorist threat to their south”, he added.
On Wednesday, Turkey launched a long-threatened assault on territory held by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) forces – Washington’s main allies in the war against the Islamic State group.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday evening that Turkey wanted to create a “safe zone” to resettle millions of Syrian refugees, many of who are holed up in Turkey.
He said his country was also aiming to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor” on the border.
But critics say the operation could lead to ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population in northern Syria and a revival of the Islamic State.
Turkey considers Kurdish YPG fighters as terrorists because of their ties to Kurdish PUK rebels waging a separatist war inside Turkey.