WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said Turkey has a legitimate security concern to launch the military offensive against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
"The Turks had a legitimate security concern ... they have a terrorist threat to their south," Pompeo said in an interview with PBS NewsHour when he was asked if Syrian Kurdish fighters are U.S. allies.
"We've been working to make sure that we did what we could do to prevent that terror threat from striking the people in Turkey," he added.
U.S. President Donald Trump on the same day also downplayed U.S. partnership with Syria's Kurdish militants, saying the United States spent tremendous money on them and they were only fighting for their land in Syria.
"They didn't help us in the Second World War," he said.
The remarks of Trump and Pompeo indicated the administration's abandoning of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a crucial ally of the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group terrorists in Syria for years.
Earlier Wednesday, Turkey launched military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria after the United States started pulling its troops out of there following a recent decision.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday declared the beginning of the military campaign to eliminate the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which Ankara deems as terrorists and separatists.
Turkey regards the SDF there as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), against which it has been waging a year-long war on its own territory.
The Trump administration's decision on Syria has prompted unremitting criticism among U.S. lawmakers from both parties, who fear a resurgence of the IS and a humanitarian crisis following the Turkish military offensive.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday announced a framework for sanctions against Turkey for its ongoing military campaign in northern Syria.
The framework includes sanctions on senior Turkish government officials and prohibition of all U.S. military business and transactions with Turkey, among others.