Turkey to launch operation towards U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria ‘in a handful of days’

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By Ezgi Erkoyun

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey will launch a new armed forces operation in northern Syria within just times, focusing on Kurdish militia fighters who are supported by U.S. troops east of the Euphrates river, President Tayyip Erdogan reported on Wednesday.

Ankara and Washington have very long been at odds around Syria, in which the United States has backed the YPG Kurdish militia in the fight versus Islamic Point out insurgents. Turkey states the YPG is a terrorist firm and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Employees Get together (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in opposition to the point out in southeastern Turkey for 34 many years.

Turkey has now intervened to sweep YPG fighters from territory west of the Euphrates in armed service campaigns over the past two decades, but up until now, it had not gone east of the river – partly to steer clear of immediate confrontation with U.S. forces.

But Erdogan’s patience with Washington more than Syria – specifically a deal to obvious the YPG from the city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates – appears to have worn slim.

“We will get started the procedure to distinct the east of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a several times. Our target is under no circumstances U.S. troopers,” Erdogan claimed at a speech at a protection sector summit in Ankara.

“This stage will allow for for the path to a political solution to be opened and for much healthier cooperation.”

Turkey has repeatedly voiced frustration about what it claims are delays in the implementation of the Manbij deal, saying last month that the agreement should be absolutely carried out by the conclude of this year.

Turkish and U.S. troops commenced joint patrols in the vicinity of Manbij final month, but that cooperation has also been difficult as Turkey has shelled Kurdish fighters to the east of the Euphrates.

OBSERVATION POSTS

The Pentagon claims it has about 2,000 troops in Syria.

Very last month the United States claimed would create observation posts on the border between Kurdish-held northern Syria and Turkey right after Turkish cross-border shelling killed four Kurdish fighters.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mentioned the Turkish assaults had led to a short term halt in the U.S.-backed campaign the SDF are waging from Islamic Condition in close proximity to the Syria-Iraq border.

Three observation posts have now been set up, a U.S. formal told Reuters on Wednesday. The formal claimed the positions ended up evidently marked and any pressure attacking them “would certainly know they are attacking the United States”.

Erdogan’s announcement came just after Turkish officers held talks in Ankara this 7 days with the U.S. specific representative for Syria, Jim Jeffrey. An SDF armed service supply mentioned Jeffrey satisfied the SDF management in northern Syria on Wednesday.

Erdogan explained Turkey was the sufferer of a “stalling tactic” more than Manbij and Islamic Condition no for a longer time posed a risk in Syria.

“Now, it really is time to notice our selection to disperse the circles of terror east of the Euphrates. The point that we have deep distinctions in notion with the United States is no mystery,” he explained.

“A stalling tactic has been employed in Manbij and is even now being used… There is no risk named Daesh in Syria anymore. This is a fairytale,” he said, working with an Arabic acronym for the militant team.

The YPG nevertheless controls a huge swathe of northeast Syria, on Turkey’s southern border. Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the PKK. Extra than 40,000 individuals, mostly Kurds, have died in the PKK’s conflict with Ankara. Turkish authorities panic the conflict could be stoked by the YPG presence throughout the border.

(More reporting by Sarah Dadouch in Istanbul and Ellen Francis in Beirut Composing by David Dolan Editing by Dominic Evans, Richard Balmforth)

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Turkey to start operation from U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria ‘in a handful of days’