Turkey says Kurdish forces in Syria must be driven out

US Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij Syria. US Army

His comments came amid reports that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels are getting ready to begin a military operation in and near the northern town of Manbij that is controlled by Kurdish-led fighters.

According to a translation of the Turkish president's words on Thursday during a previously planned summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Ankara, journalist Abdullah Bozkurt reports, "Turkish president Erdogan says Turkey won't support us sanctions on Iran which he claims puts regional security and stability at risk, vows to take all measures to minimize impact of sanctions on trade between the two countries, pledges support to Iran in hard times". Thus the USA withdrawal is considered a major concession for Erdogan, which no doubt Trump was hoping to maintain as a key ally against Iran.

Turkey is massing troops near a town in northern Syria held by a USA -backed and Kurdish-led force, a war monitor said, as Turkish media reported Sunday on new Turkish reinforcements crossing the borders.

Erdogan welcomed Trump's abrupt decision last week to withdraw American troops from Syria.

"In Afrin, there was a Russian handover, and here is the USA which is allied to Turkey", he said.

"We are cooperating with Turkey and Iran", Lavrov told a Russian news agency, according to a transcript posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a US military delegation is expected in Turkey this week. "It would be a bitter choice, but certainly better than a Turkish invasion", an official with the People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish group in Syria, told VOA last week on condition of anonymity.

Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.

MANJIB-SYRIA
MANJIB-SYRIA

In a speech at the Turkish Defense Industry Summit held December 12 in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said, referring to the YPG: "We will start the operation east of the Euphrates in a few days to liberate it from the separatist terrorist organization".

Turkish-backed fighters said Monday they are preparing to move into eastern Syria alongside Turkish troops once American forces withdraw and are already massing on the front line of a town held by Kurdish-led forces.

"Coordination between the YPG and the regime has existed since before the U.S. announced the withdrawal of its forces from Syria", Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, told Arab News.

Erdogan said last week a military operation against Kurds east of the Euphrates will take place within months. While the foreign minister did not give a time frame, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that Turkey would stall its offensive as part of coordination with the USA over the planned withdrawal of United States forces from the area.

She noted how USA allies are "criticizing us publicly" and how Erdogan is "taking a victory lap". On Monday, Turkey warned Syria that it would forcefully retaliate against any attack on its military positions there.

"I urge Trump to go back on his decision inciting Erdogan against the Syrian people in general and the Kurdish people in specific", she said. According to the deal, the Kurdish militia would withdraw from Manbij and USA and Turkish troops would patrol the area, as a new administration for the mixed Arab-Kurdish town is elected.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984, is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.

Critics of Trump's decision fear that thousands of Islamic State (IS) group extremist members are still thought to be in Syria, despite Trump's claim of having defeated IS. Their talk seems to have been a major factor in Trump's decision.

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With the warm-up through, we will be tracking rain showers, that could start off as snow showers northwest early Friday morning. After two days of "quiet weather", Wednesday will bring more snow to the Cascades, which received a lot this past weekend.

Turkey leader promised he'll 'eradicate' ISIS in Syria
Trump has long bemoaned the amount of money the USA spends overseas and complained that other countries don't pay their share. Defence officials have cautioned against a timeline, but the withdrawal could begin in weeks.

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