US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today that Turkey appears to have committed war crimes in Syria and should be held responsible for escalating Washington's rhetoric against Ankara.
His statement comes after a Turkish military operation against Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria caused mass displacement, with reports of indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
"I saw the reports, we are trying to follow them. They are terrible and if they are correct – and I suppose they are correct – they will be war crimes, "Esper said in an interview with CNN.
"Those responsible should be held accountable, in many cases it will be the government of Turkey."
"We cannot allow these things to happen," he said.
In a statement last week, the US Secretary of Defense noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "bears full responsibility" for the Turkish invasion of Syria, including "possible war crimes".
It also strongly condemned the "unacceptable" Turkish attack on Syria, saying it resulted in the "release of numerous dangerous prisoners" of Islamic State members.
His statement to CNN today is the clearest expression of the Pentagon leader's view that Turkey should be held accountable for war crimes.