U.S. Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk assured reporters on a visit to , , that American forces would not leave the northern city even if Turkish forces attack it.

Asked about concerns that would come into direct conflict with U.S. troops, Funk said, “It’s not in my job description to worry, my job is to fight.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched “Operation Olive Branch,” an invasion of Kurdish-held territory in , northern , in mid-January, allegedly to reduce a presence of “terrorists” on the Turkish-n border. Ankara considers all n Turkish forces “terrorists,” even those allied with the United States.

America keeps a base in , east of , where it cooperates with the n Defense Forces (SDF), a conglomerate group largely made up of n Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ). The YPG were largely responsible for the eradication of the Islamic State (ISIS) from much of , including the former ISIS “capital” , and work with the United States, Russia, and almost any anti-jihadi forces on the group. They have avoided both conflict and cooperation with n dictator Bashar al-Assad.

At the base, Funk affirmed the United States is “here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area” and had no plans to vacate, according to ’s Hurriyetnewspaper. Funk also offered support to the SDF, which is not a fully Kurdish force.

 “I’m very confident in the [n Democratic Forces] leadership. When nobody else could do it they retook . I think that has earned them a seat at the table,” he said. The SDF also eradicated all ISIS presence in itself in 2016.

U.S. Central Command chief General  told reporters in January that the United States had no plans of leaving , dismissing Turkish demands for U.S. troops to leave. Withdrawal, Votel said, is “not something we are looking into.”

Unlike Votel’s remark, Funk’s statement is the most categorical statement of support for the SDF since announced the invasion of . When Erdogan confirmed the presence of Turkish troops across the border, the State and Defense Departments both repeatedly claimed that had “legitimate security concerns” in , seemingly implying that Erdogan was right to view the anti-ISIS Kurdish forces as a threat. The YPG do support the establishment of a sovereign Kurdish state, which may include Turkish territory. Kurdistan spans land across , Iran, Iraq, and .

The State Department did, however, “urge to exercise restraint” without issuing a statement of full support to the YPG. Erdogan and his government have appeared to respond to the request by escalating its belligerent rhetoric, threatening in addition to and warning Turkish troops may reach all the way to the -Iraq border.

“Operation Olive Branch will continue until it reaches its goals. We will rid of terrorists, as it was promised to us, and our battles will continue until no terrorist is left until our border with Iraq,” Erdogan said in a speech last month. “ will rid ’s of terrorists following . Nobody should be bothered by this. is not occupying , only fighting against terrorists there.”

He added that, though Turkish forces were “not occupying ,” they would “continue [the operation] as far as the border with Iraq until no terrorist is left.”

Hurriyet notes that, some days later, Erdogan curtly demanded the U.S. withdraw from . “Why are you staying there?” he asked. “Leave.”

On Thursday, Erdogan changed his tune yet again, threatening to move troops not east but south to Idlib. Idlib remains heavily populated by n Sunni Arab rebel forces and was the target of an alleged chemical weapons attack by Assad’s forces this weekend, following the death of a Russian pilot rebels shot out of the sky.

“We will continue fighting terrorism, even despite the [Western] calls to stop the operation in . After we defeat the terrorists in , we will defeat them in Idlib too,” he proclaimed. Erdogan did not elaborate on how the presence of Assad forces in Idlib would alter the Turkish military’s calculus, as they are currently fighting in territory only populated by SDF troops.

Originally published in http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2018/02/08/u-s-general-troops-leaving-manbij-turks-here-not/