Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Turkish president threatens to target US-backed Kurdish fighters

Turkey denies top Saudi prosecutor’s request for whole Khashoggi file report Key US allies 'temporarily' halt campaign against ISIS in Syria following clashes with Turkey
Andrew Cummings | 02 November, 2018, 06:41

Turkish and US troops patrolled around the Saju Stream, which separates the Manbij frontline from the city of Jarabulus, an area falling under Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, according to Anadolu Agency reporters on the ground.

The escalation comes a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his party lawmakers that the military was preparing to launch an operation against Kurdish forces east of the Euphrates River.

Taspinar sees Ankara with the upper hand over Washington regarding the situation in northern Syria, but overall with the release of USA pastor Andrew Brunson and open communication in the investigation of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the two countries are diplomatically improving.

"Turkish attacks in the north and ISIS attacks in the south against our troops had forced us to stop our current operation temporarily against ISIS in the last pocket of it", the SDF said in a statement. The US has been in touch with Turkey and a Kurdish-dominated Syrian militia to emphasise the need "to de-escalate the situation", he said. Most of the Kurdish-controlled territory lies east of the Euphrates.

"The fighting between our forces and the Turkish side has become very intense now", the SDF spokesperson told Syria Direct on Wednesday. It was the second time this week Turkish artillery targeted Kurdish positions in northeast Syria, an area where troops of the US -led coalition are also based. The US considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the YPG or SDF.

"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news conference in Washington on Wednesday.

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Since June, U.S. and Turkish forces had conducted more than 60 of what the Pentagon has called "coordinated but independent" patrols in the area. He was referring to a Kurdish enclave taken earlier this year by Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

According to the Turkish state Anadolu news agency, Turkish artillery targeted Kurdish forces in the Zor Moghar village in Aleppo on Sunday.

Turkish and U.S. troops are due to start conducting joint patrols in the Syrian city of Manbij later on Tuesday or Wednesday, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted byAnadolu news agency as saying on Tuesday.

"We are aware of Turkish statements about a planned offensive into northeast Syria and have been in touch with Turkey and the SDF to de-escalate the situation", he added, while saying that the United States military was "working closely with the SDF who are in the midst of offensive operations against ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley", calling the USA allies "a committed partner against ISIS".

Since Tuesday, Turkish armed forces carried out cross-border shelling near Tal Abyad and Kobani.

The PKK/PYD/YPG terror groups should know that they will be buried in their own trenches, Akar added.

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