Turkey shuts down US-based aid group helping Syrians

The Pentagon spokesman's remarks indicated that the USA does not approve of the Turkish plan to drive the Kurdish militia from the town.

Under pressure in Washington over allegations of Russian interference in the USA election, President Donald Trump has backed off his campaign pledge to cooperate on fighting terrorism in Syria with Putin.

The U.S. and Russian moves leave Turkey with "no more room to maneuver", said Faysal Itani, an analyst with the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country seeks a "trilateral mechanism" to clear the area of "terrorist groups". In Manbij, "the U.S.is raising a flag, Russian Federation is raising a flag nearby, things have turned into a flag competition", Yildirim said in an interview with ATV television. The Trump administration has not yet announced the result of a review of the Obama administration's policy for fighting the Islamic State, but US officials have indicated that although it may involve more USA troops, it won't diverge significantly from the original plan to rely on a force dominated by Syrian Kurds to continue the fight against the militants in Syria.

Analysts advised against a Turkish military move to capture Manbij, warning Turkey would find itself confronting all other actors in the Syrian theatre.

Turkey's military announced the meeting in a brief statement.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), captured the area around Manbij from ISIS previous year.

But the United States has been pushing the SDF to fight towards Raqqa, Isis' de-facto capital, which would prevent a hugely symbolic victory for the side that manages to retake the city.

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The fight against Isis has made the groups uncomfortable allies but the so-called Islamic State's impending defeat in northern Syria is letting former divisions escalate into open conflict along new frontlines.

Yildirim spoke as Turkey's military chief of staff met his USA and Russian counterparts in the southern Turkish province of Antalya to discuss coordination in Syria.

American defence officials said decisions over the Raqqa offensive had not been discussed with Turkish commanders in Antalya. But last-minute maneuvering by Russia pre-empted the Turkish gambit with the SDF reportedly ceding control of the villages to Russian and Syrian regime forces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing a campaign rally in the Turkish capital Ankara, reiterated his readiness to confront the Kurdish forces. "We're not a political organisation and our reason for being is to deliver assistance to civilians who need it the most", said Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, the group's director of media relations.

In the center of the country, Syrian troops captured the Jazal oil field from the extremists after days of fighting, state TV said, quoting an unnamed military official. Mercy Corps, a Portland-based humanitarian agency, has been forced to shutter its operations in Turkey, affecting aid operations that help up to 500,000 people in neighboring Syria each month, according to the group.

"The U.S.is working for the formation of a federal Syria", maintained Solmazturk.

Bragale said Mercy Corps would continue its cross-border operations for Syria from other regional hubs "to ensure that there is no gap" in the delivery of the assistance.

  • Adam Floyd