The deputy commander of the coalition fighting Daesh has called on all sides to ensure that civilians are protected after the YPG/PKK terror group made death threats against the families of Free Syrian Army (FSA) members in Afrin.
"We would urge all parties to de-escalate any of these tensions and focus on what is critical to us now, which is the defeat of ISIS [Daesh] and bringing peace and stability to northeast Syria," UK Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney said Tuesday in response to a question from an Anadolu Agency correspondent.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon via a video conference, Gedney, deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, answered questions about operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Recalling the coalition's previous remarks that it trains "local and partner forces in the rules of war", he was asked whether those rules permit the targeting of civilians.
"No. Of course the rules of war do not allow the targeting of noncombatants," Gedney said.
In a post last week on its official Twitter account, the YPG/PKK terror group issued a threat to FSA members in the Syrian city of Afrin, saying their families are the main targets.
Later, some social media accounts linked with the terror group allegedly shared a list containing dozens of names connected with the FSA members.
The terror group also seized farmland and fields, shops and household items of FSA members and their families in Manbij.
Additionally, the group also evicted elderly people from their homes and forcefully recruited other residents to fight for their interests, according to local sources based in the area.
Turkey, in coordination with FSA members, launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin amid growing threats from the region.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, a major hideout for the PYD/PKK terrorist organization since 2012.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, said the Turkish military.
The U.S. has supported the YPG/PKK under the name of SDF, which is considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.
The PKK has fought a 33-year war against Turkey that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.