Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said that the U.S. will continue to work with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in its fight against ISIS upon a question by a correspondent from Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Turkish correspondent has asked whether the Pentagon is not concerned with the links of the SDF, which the correspondent said "is supported by the U.S. taxpayers' money," to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The correspondent also mentioned Turkey's operations in northern Iraq and said that the SDF voiced solidarity with the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the EU, against Turkey.
Kirby, in response, reiterated the Pentagon's support for the SDF, which is led by the People's Protection Units (YPG) - accepted as a terror group by Turkey due to its links with the PKK.
"The U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria are solely focused on countering the still-lingering threat that ISIS poses to the Iraqi and Syrian people. As we have long said, one of the best ways to ensure a sustainable defeat of ISIS is to do so through local, indigenous forces," Kirby said on Feb. 17.
"We are working in Syria with the SDF and we are working with Iraqis in Iraq. The goal is, as it has been, to go after ISIS. That's the focus," Kirby noted.
The Anadolu Agency correspondent then asked whether this justifies the fact that the SDF expresses solidarity with the PKK.
"I'm not going to get into individual groups here. We're working with local Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria to go after ISIS and that hasn't changed. If you're asking me, I think that taxpayers are well-served by the coalition efforts to defeat ISIS, I would say absolutely they are," Kirby said.
"This is a group that is greatly diminished from what it was," he said, adding that the reason is that an international coalition with local partners on the ground that have proven capable and competent in going after them.
"If you're asking me if the money and the resources have been well spent, and the cost in blood as well, which is certainly a high cost, when you look at what ISIS has become today, it's hard to make the case that this wasn't worth the effort," the spokesperson noted.
Turkey and the U.S. have been at odds over the latter's support for the SDF. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the U.S. for not condemning the PKK after the deaths of 13 Turks, including soldiers, police and intelligence officers, in northern Iraq on Feb. 14 in its initial statement. The U.S. condemned the PKK later on Feb. 15.