Syria: Kurdish forces fly US flags over military site
Images have emerged of US-backed Kurdish forces flying US flags near the Syrian town of Tal al-Abyad on the border with Turkey.
The Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] reportedly raised the flags on Thursday on a military base in the town of al-Munbatih to deter the Turkish military from attacking the site.
Media activist Suhaib al-Hasakawi told The New Arab the incident followed reports of an upcoming Turkish operation backed by Syrian rebel groups to take control of the border town.
"This was an attempt to discourage Turkish forces from taking the city," Hasakawi said.
A local source said the flags were raised at the same time US troops were present in the town, adding that it was unclear what motivated the Kurdish forces to fly the flags.
The SDF is a US-backed grouping of Syrian rebel forces dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG] militia, which Turkey regards as a "terror group".
Turkey launched an offensive into Syria last month against the Islamic State group [IS] and the YPG.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told Turkish state media he was unaware of the incident, adding: "In the past as we've said, we would call on our partner forces not to fly the American flag on their own, certainly.
"And so, I would imagine that that would be communicated if indeed that's taken place in this instance."
Earlier this month, Kurdish forces reportedly flew a US flag in the village of Rafe close to the city of Manbij.
The Pentagon has called on Turkey and Kurdish forces to avoid fighting each other, after clashes in northern Syria following the launch of Ankara's operation "Euphrates Shield".
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch said Turkish air raids in northern Syria in late August killed 24 civilians, accusing Ankara of failing to properly identify the target and pro-Kurdish forces of grouping fighters together with civilians.