Trump Calls Turkey's President To Discuss Strikes In Syria

Turkey has launched a military operation in the northern Syria town of Afrin, where there is a large presence of Syrian Kurds, including members of the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia working with the USA -led coalition to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

US President Donald Trump urged on Wednesday his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "curtail" his country's military operation in Afrin in Syria, announced the White House.

Iran's Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Maj-Gen Mohammad Baqeri cautioned Turkey against encroaching on Syria's territorial integrity, independence and national sovereignty during a phone conversation he had with Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar. It did not elaborate on that rhetoric.

Russian Federation has said the operation is a step towards the partition of Syria.

Officials in Moscow have expressed their concerns about the Turkish military operation in Afrin, but blame the USA for creating what Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calls "alternative bodies of power" in Syria.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday asserted the Turkish army had falsely claimed that Islamic State (IS) militants were present in the Afrin region of northwestern Syria.

The White House referred to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation, a gesture that will please Ankara. The YPG makes up the backbone of the SDF. Erdogan, in turn, vowed to "foil games along our borders, starting from Manbij". Turkey had said it will not accept YPG presence west of the Euphrates. "Of course, our coordination with the global coalition continues with regards to the protection of Manbij", said Darwish.

Tillerson has been moving to de-escalate the situation and improve relations after the United States' announcement of a 30,000 strong border force with the Kurds upset its key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

McKenzie said the U.S. forces would protect themselves no matter what. "Their patrols are continuing and also air patrols".

At the same time, the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday deleted two tweets that referred to Turkish airstrikes on IS fighters in Afrin, Syria.

Damascus knows that the YPG militias (People's Protection Units) want to divide Syria. Kurdish officials placed the civilian death toll higher.

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Turkish warplanes struck the northern borders of Afrin, in tandem with heavy artillery shelling, and one civilian was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

However, observers believe that the threat of military response by Syria was a message to the Kurdish fighters in Afrin that if the area was handed over to the Syrian government, the Syrian forces would respond to the Turkish attack as mentioned by Mekdad. He said Turkish troops have suffered seven or eight losses. Earlier this week, a Syrian refugee was killed by a similar strike. "We are prepared and have been supplied by the YPG to fight against Turkish terrorists", said an unnamed spokesman, who had an American accent.

Turkish TV images showed the rocket that struck the mosque had pierced through its dome.

Tillerson told Cavusoglu that the proposed 30-km safe zone would address Turkey's security concerns, the source added.

Kinik said he hoped around 150,000 people would be allowed to return home to Aleppo once the fighting in Afrin had finished.

But Ozpek said Russia's tactic has so far failed to produce enough of a split between Turkey and the United States, adding that Moscow has also "completely lost the trust of Syrian Kurds".

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.

Criticizing the recent military offensive on social media has landed more than 150 in jail, Turkish state media said Wednesday.

The commitment to the new plan, initiated by France, was made during a conference on International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

Assad accuses Washington of fomenting separatist movements by the Kurds, as the USA discourages the country's Kurdish minority from engaging with Damascus.

Tensions between Ankara and Washington have long simmered over the latter's backing of the YPG, a Kurdish militia that has spearheaded the ground campaign of the US-led coalition against Isis in Syria.

  • Adam Floyd