Syria: Turkey Hit Afrin with Chemical Projectiles

21 February, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Turkey sets up new observation post in Syria's HTS-held Idlib

Turkey is a critical North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, hosting about 1,500 American military personnel and aircraft at Incirlik Air Base, a staging point for the fight against Islamic State.

The United States in turn is unhappy over Turkey's arresting thousands of its own citizens as well as Americans and Turkish employees of the U.S. Embassy and consulates that it says were just performing their jobs.

Mr Cavusoglu said the mechanisms they had agreed upon were aimed at "finding real outcomes - we are not wasting each other's times".

It comes amid a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia fighters in Afrin that began last month.

Tillerson said the first working group would deal with the issue of the town of Manbij, which is held by the US -backed Syrian Kurdish militia and where the United States has a military presence. While Washington has for years relied on the group as a go-to proxy ground force against Islamic State in Syria, Turkey sees the YPG as an organization tied to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been waging an often violent separatist battle with Ankara since the 1980s. We're going to lock arms.


In a photo distributed by the Turkish presidency before the start of the more than three-hour meeting, the two are shown shaking hands, although only Tillerson was smiling.

Ankara has placed greater emphasis in recent months on the need to combat the Kurdish militia and has said the United States is merely using one terrorist group to combat another.

Turkey has said it could expand its assault to those areas and last week renewed its demands for the YPG to pull out of all parts of Syria west of the Euphrates. The Turkish view of the connection between the two groups was bolstered this week by a US intelligence assessment equating them and concluding they "probably will seek some form of autonomy" - exactly what Turkey fears. "This is a commitment that the United States of America has made to us and we will be talking about how this implementation will be made".

"Manbij is going to be given priority in our joint working effort", Mr Tillerson said. So far it has cleared 44 villages, the Anadolu news agency reported, but has yet to take any of the main towns. "We take utmost care about civilians in Operation Olive Branch", a Turkish diplomatic source said Saturday, using the codename for its intervention in Afrin. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who were killed in the operations.

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