President Donald Trump Wednesday warned Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Wednesday against expanding Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Afrin. He said such action could lead to direct conflict with US forces, the White House said in a readout of the phone call. Turkey claimed later that the readout did not accurately reflect the content of the conversation and the Trump “didn’t’ share concerns” over the violence. The Trump call came after Erdogan vowed to extend his military assault in northern town to another town, Manbij, where US troops are deployed with Kurdish YPG fighters, raising the prospect of a direct clash between two NATO armies, unless Erdogan backs down.
Trump urged Turkey “to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees,” the White House said. He “expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey.”