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US Must 'Get Tough' With Turkey After Shelling in Syria

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The United States must harden its stance on NATO ally Turkey in light of the continued shelling of Kurdish People Protection Unites (YPG) positions in northern Syria, former Commander of NATO’s Training Mission in Iraq Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — On Tuesday, Turkey continued its fourth straight day of shelling Kurdish YPG positions across the Turkish-Syrian border. The United States has condemned the attacks on the YPG, which have been important allies in the fight against Daesh.

"We have not been tough with them [the Turks]. We say we are, but we have not," Barbero stated on Tuesday.

Turkish artillery fire from the border near Kilis toward northern Syria, in Kilis, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Barbero added that the United States have failed to confront Turkey’s behavior "because we want this coalition [the Daesh] more than we want to be tough with certain members of it."

The United States "should have gotten tough" with the Turks a few years ago, Barbero argued.

At that time, Turkey had allegedly joined the US-led coalition against Daesh, but it "started pounding the Kurdish YPG," and denied the United States use of a strategic airbase in southern Turkey until last July, he added.

A Syrian Kurdish militia member of YPG patrols near a Turkish army tank as Turks work to build a new Ottoman tomb in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. (File) - Sputnik International
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Barbero, who served three tours in Iraq and acted as Deputy Chief of Staff for Multi-National Task Force during the 2007 through 2008 troop surge, noted that the Kurds he is in contact with are "very frustrated with how we have given the Turks a free rein."

The ongoing Turkish attacks on YPG units come only days before the scheduled pause in hostilities in Syria, negotiated by the International Syria Support Group.

On Monday, US Vice President Joe Biden called on Turkey to stop its shelling of Kurdsh YPG units in northern Syria. On Tuesday, both the Pentagon and State Department also called on Turkey to halt the attacks on the YPG.

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