American troops in Syria may be on the receiving end of an “Ottoman slap” if they don’t abandon a key group of local fighters, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Tuesday.
Erdogan's boast was a response to an Army general who warned pro-Turkish forces not to attack a Syrian city held by U.S. and counter-Islamic State coalition forces that the Turks regard as a terrorist threat in their own right.
Syrian militias partnered with Turkey wanted to overrun Manbij, where U.S. military advisors train Kurdish and Arab fighters.
But Turkey is in the midst of a campaign near a city called Afrin against Syrian Kurds, whom they regard as partners of a Turkish Kurdish terrorist group known as the PKK.
“As to the situation in Afrin, it has detracted from our fight to defeat ISIS in eastern Syria,” Tillerson told reporters in Kuwait.