Near Syrian border, Turkish defense minister vows operation when time is right




Turkey
Turkey's Chief of the General Staff Akar is seen during the EFES-2018 Military Exercise near the Aegean port city of Izmir  

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's defense minister on Friday pledged to wage a campaign against a U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, sharpening focus on a potential conflict the United States has sought to prevent.

The comments from Hulusi Akar, on an unannounced visit to inspect troops stationed near the Syrian border directly opposite territory held by the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG, appeared to be aimed at both Washington and its Kurdish allies.

Turkey and the United States, although NATO allies, are deeply divided over the implementation of President Donald Trump's plan to bring home about 2,000 troops stationed in Syria. The plan hinges on Turkish cooperation to secure a swathe of northeast Syria as the United States departs.

While the pull-out has been clouded by mixed messages from both Trump and his administration, on Friday the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State began the process of withdrawing, a spokesman said.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, this week tried to make the case for guarantees that Turkey would not harm the YPG after the withdrawal. That earned a stiff rebuke from President Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and sees Washington's support for it against Islamic State as a betrayal.

"When the time and place comes the terrorists here will be buried in the ditches they have dug, as was done in previous operations," Akar said in a speech to military personnel at a brigade command center in the province of Sanliurfa, referring to two other cross-border campaigns that Turkey has carried out in Syria.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. The Kurdish groups that control a vast swathe of northern Syria have now turned to Moscow and Damascus in the hope of striking a political deal that will stave off Turkey and shield their autonomy in the north.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed frustration over a deal with the United States for the withdrawal of the YPG from the city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates river.

"Before us we have Manbij on one side and the east of the Euphrates on the other," Akar said, underscoring the scale of a potential operation. "Important preparations and planning have been made in connection with this. Our preparations are continuing intensively."

Turkey's planned military operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria does not depend on an American withdrawal from the region, Ankara said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Daren Butler; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Toby Chopra)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress
Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not testify before a House committee next month as scheduled, his adviser said Wednesday, depriving Democrats for now of a prime opportunity to scrutinize Trump, his links to Russia and payments to buy the silence of a

No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding
No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding

The No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday raised the possibility of approving $5.7 billion in funding to secure the U.S. border though various means but not by building a wall. Referring to Republican President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn told reporters, "We see ourselves fulfilling that request" with a "smart wall." The consideration comes as U.S. lawmakers this week seek to forge a path out of the partial government shutdown as it entered its 33rd day on Wednesday. Trump has said the $5.7 billion would be for the wall in addition to other funds for border...

Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect
Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect

The Supreme Court will allow Trump's partial ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect while court challenges continue.

3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter
3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter

Dozens of white Catholic high school students visiting Washington for a rally to end abortion. At first the focus was on a short video showing one of the high school students, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat and appearing to smirk while a crowd of other teens laughed

Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016
Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016

Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Trump may have continued to pursue the project and had discussions about it with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, until as late as October or November 2016, when Trump was closing in on his election victory over Democrat Hillary

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Africa

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.