Cavusoglu: Turkey's Syria operation can not be limited to Afrin

Posted January 18, 2018

The top USA diplomat said he had a brief meeting Tuesday with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of American allies in Canada on North Korea policy. "At present, these territories are under the control of the SDF, but the relationships between the Kurds and Arabs within the group are very tense and the USA announcement that the territory will be controlled by different groups under American leadership causes concern that the aim of the initiative is to divide Syria", Lavrov said.

"We don't consider them as part of our "Defeat ISIS" operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them". He said the actions of the United States don't correspond to the spirit of ally relations with Turkey. "They want to move the Geneva process forward", Hariri said.

On Monday, Erdogan accused the United States of creating a "terror army" in Syria, along the border with Turkey.

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About half of the projected 30,000-strong force is to come from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated force that the USA organized to fight ISIS. According to the Haberturk television channel, recruiting is ongoing in the border region. The United States however has relied on the YPG — the backbone of a Syrian force that drove the Islamic State group from much of northern and eastern Syria with the help of USA -led airstrikes.

Mr Reynders told the media of the desire for the regime of the President, Bachar al-Assad, to give a clear signal of its willingness to start genuine negotiations, and its clear commitment to power-sharing and to leading Syria in an alternative way. It is extraordinary to hear a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally openly threaten to "drown" a US-backed force, and possibly by extension the U.S. troops implementing the program.

As candidate, U.S. President Donald Trump was critical of his predecessors' military interventions in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He noted that Turkey will take all necessary steps against provocative actions of the US.

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However, Turkey has been threatening to launch a military offensive in Syria against Kurdish militia there. "ISIS presently has one foot in the grave, and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria, until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two". Along with Afrin, Erdogan has also threatened Manbij, a town the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces seized from the Islamic State in 2016. "We must ensure that the resolution of this conflict does not put Iran closer to its goal of controlling the region".

"We have not been invited yet", he said.

The move was part of a deal with Russian Federation and Iran, both key backers of the Assad regime. Neither the US nor any other country with a stake in the Middle East can afford to ignore that.

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United Nations officials have criticized government forces for targeting hospitals and makeshift clinics, noting the maternity and pediatric hospital in Ma'arrat An Nu'man alone has been attacked three times this month. Washington won't allow worldwide reconstruction aid to flow to any part of Syria under Assad's control, he said.