Turkey-Backed Fighters Prepare to Replace US Forces in Syria

26 December, 2018, 07:39 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Demonstrators wave the Syrian national flag during a demonstration in the northeastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli

Washington has backed the YPG in the fight against Islamic State, but Ankara sees the militia as a terrorist organisation.

"It is out of the question for Turkey to get permission or consent from Israel or any other country [to fight terror]", he told journalists after a cabinet meeting.

Turkey was in Syria "to return the freedom of our Arab brothers and sisters, to return the freedom of our Kurdish brothers and sisters", Erdogan said during a speech.

In response, Erdogan dubbed Netanyahu is "the voice of tyrants" and the head of "state terror".

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters who were armed and trained by the USA and played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.

The Turkish IHA news agency reported that a convoy of Turkish troops - a commando unit - had been sent into Syria overnight.

United States military officials will visit Turkey this week to discuss the details of the Syria pullout with their counterparts, an Erdogan spokesman said on Monday.

Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday that a US military delegation would arrive this week to "discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts".

Ankara has said it'll deploy its forces to Jarabulus and Manbij in Syria.


"This decision will affect the conduct of military operations and will affect the stability and safety that the areas of north and east Syria live in", he warned on Monday.

Cavusoglu said the United States withdrawal "should not serve the YPG's separatist agenda".

Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark suggested Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might have blackmailed US President Donald Trump into removing troops from Syria. "I call on him to return the favor".

Macron did not say what France's military will do next in Syria.

Turkey's fears about Kurdish militia were partly allayed by a deal reached in June over Manbij.

President Donald Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of USA ground forces deployed in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance battling the Islamic State. According to the deal, the Kurdish militia would withdraw from Manbij and US and Turkish troops would patrol the area, as a new administration for the mixed Arab-Kurdish town is elected. But the Kremlin said Putin did not have any immediate plans to meet with Erdogan.

"We are transitioning primary responsibility for the defeat of the few remaining ISIS remnants in Syria to our allies and partners on the ground inside Syria", a USA administration official told VOA Friday, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

"It will affect more than four million people with the threats made by different groups, similar what happened in Afrin", Gabriel said.

Youssef Hammoud, spokesperson for the Syrian opposition fighters, accused the US -backed Kurdish militia of reaching out to the Syrian government to replace USA troops if they withdraw.

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