SUN 24 - 3 - 2019
Nov 8, 2018
The Daily Star
Erdogan says U.S.-Kurdish patrols near Syria border unacceptable
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday joint U.S.-Kurdish patrols just over the Turkish border with Syria were unacceptable and he expected U.S. President Donald Trump to stop them. Erdogan, set to meet Trump in Paris this weekend, told reporters he would discuss the patrols that he said were being carried out inside Syria by the United States and allied Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.
“I believe when we speak with Trump, they will probably stop this process,” he said.
The SDF said Friday U.S. troops had started patrolling the border in a bid to defuse tensions with Ankara though it did not say whether its own forces had joined in.
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria said that there had been no increase in patrolling.
Erdogan’s concerns underlined the complex web of allegiance and enmity along the border that has been exacerbated by the civil war over the frontier in Syria.
The United States has backed and armed the SDF, describing them as allies in its fight against Daesh (ISIS) militants in Syria.
That U.S.-Kurdish alliance has alarmed Turkey which says that Kurdish YPG fighters inside the SDF coalition are an offshoot of outlawed militant group inside its own territory.
Turkish military advances into northern Syria over the past two years have put U.S. forces directly in the path of advancing troops from Turkey, Washington’s main Muslim NATO ally.
In another sign of the complex situation, the U.S. and Turkey began separate joint patrols in northern Syria Thursday, around the town of Manbij, with the aim of averting clashes between Turkey and Washington’s Kurdish allies.
But Ankara pressed on with a new offensive nearby on the Kurdish forces Washington trains and arms.
Last week, Turkish forces shelled positions in northern Syria under SDF control.
Erdogan last week vowed to crush Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates, where some 2,000 U.S. forces stand alongside the SDF.
Meanwhile, a bomb went off inside a car in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, killing one person, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Manbij Military Council, which administers the town.
The SDF drove Daesh out of Manbij in 2016.
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