Turkey relationship sours further as leaders dispute phonecall over Syria offensive

Cavusoglu Turkish forces have no intention of attacking Syrian gov’t troops
Caspian Region Backs Turkey's Afrin Operation In Syria
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26 January, 2018

US President Donald Trump plans to raise concerns with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Ankara's offensive against Kurdish YPG fighters in Afrin, a senior US official said.

Turkish official have neither denied or confirmed about discussing about "Iranian sponsored terrorism", the term generally used about Lebanon based Hezbollah, the followers of Iranian revolutionaries who have played important role along with Iranian military advisors in defeating Daesh (IS) in Syria and Iraq. It did not elaborate on that rhetoric.

The assault by Turkish troops against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria has seen Washington's fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Ankara attacking a US-allied force, even raising fears of military confrontation between the two Alliance powers.

It has long said it will not allow the Kurdish fighters to control a strip of Syrian territory on its southern border.

Differences over Syria policy have already strained Turkey's relations with Washington nearly to a breaking point.

"There is no way on earth there will not be initial tensions between Turkey and the United States if Turkey is to intervene against other areas without a willingness on the part of the U.S.to withdraw those forces, and Washington has given no indication whatsoever that it will do so". Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. The YPG makes up the backbone of the SDF.

This left a bitter taste in United States military and diplomatic quarters, and sped up attempts to improve co-ordination, with United States defense secretary James Mattis emphasising that "top level" engagement is happening between the two sides.

Bossert meanwhile said it would be a "terrible outcome" if Turkish troops clashed with "the proxy forces that we have all been relying on to defeat ISIS, especially if there are USA advisers in the region".

USA forces were deployed in and around Manbij to deter Turkish and US -backed rebels from attacking each other and have also carried out training missions in the area. Washington has angered Turkey by providing arms, training and air support to the Syrian Kurdish forces, which Turkey considers enemies. "Of course, our coordination with the worldwide coalition continues with regards to the protection of Manbij", said Darwish.

Gabriel said that, "concerning the current discussions about defense exports, the government is clear about the fact that we must not and will not export into conflict zones". While US forces are not officially stationed in Afrin, they are presently 97km away in Manbij. On Wednesday, Kurdish officials said airstrikes hit in the vicinity of the Nissan 17 Dam, which provides power and water to the area, without damaging it.

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A report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights refuted that claim, saying Turkey is responsible for 28 civilian deaths.

United States military personnel are deployed in Manbij, situated about 100 km east of Afrin.

THE FACTS: The Islamic State group is not known to have any presence in Afrin. He said Turkish troops have suffered seven or eight losses.

"There was a desire on the part of the foreign fighters who fought in Raqqa and who are fighting in Deir al-Zor to go to Afrin", YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said.

Most recently, a PYD/PKK rocket attack from Syria killed two civilians and injured six others when it hit a mosque at prayer time in Kilis on Wednesday.

Back to the al-Watan newspaper, its reports said that the nearly week-long offensive has failed to establish real achievements in terms of the Turkish goal to defeat the Kurdish fighters and Afrin and prepare the area to be a safe zone for Syrian refugees.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said the operation, which involves Turkish troops accompanied by allied Syrian rebels and backed by war planes, artillery, and tanks, was aimed at creating a security zone some 30 kilometers deep inside Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

IS has been driven from almost all the territory it once controlled in Syria, including its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, but the extremist group has proven resilient after past defeats, and is still launching insurgent-style attacks.

Yucel himself said in a written interview with German news agency DPA from his Turkish jail cell this month that he was "not available for any dirty deals" to win his freedom.


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