Tag Archives: Turkish

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

Near Syrian border, Turkish defense minister vows operation when time is rightTurkey’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.



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Talks between U.S., Turkish militaries on Kurds to continue next week: Bolton

Talks between U.S., Turkish militaries on Kurds to continue next week: BoltonU.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Friday talks between the U.S. military and its Turkish counterparts on the Kurds and Syria will continue next week, in the hopes of producing results both countries accept. Bolton, in a radio interview, said he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo understood Turkey had committed “not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS.” Bolton had suggested on Tuesday that protecting Washington’s Kurdish allies would be a pre-condition of the U.S. withdrawal troops from Syria, which began earlier on Friday.



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Turkish President Tells U.S. It Can Make No 'Concessions' for Syrian Kurds

Turkish President Tells U.S. It Can Make No 'Concessions' for Syrian KurdsTurkish President Erdogan accused Mike Pompeo of making a 'mistake' Tuesday



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Turkish President Tells U.S. It Can Make No 'Concessions' for Syrian Kurds

Turkish President Tells U.S. It Can Make No 'Concessions' for Syrian KurdsTurkish President Erdogan accused Mike Pompeo of making a 'mistake' Tuesday



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Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talksMOSCOW (AP) — Top Russian and Turkish ministers agreed during a meeting in Moscow on Saturday to maintain cooperation in northern Syria as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw and Turkey threatens to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces controlling nearly a third of the country.



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Trump says Erdogan will 'eradicate' Isil in Syria and praises the Turkish leader as 'a man who can do it' 

Trump says Erdogan will 'eradicate' Isil in Syria and praises the Turkish leader as 'a man who can do it' Donald Trump has said Turkey will finish off the Islamic State in Syria as he praised the country's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as "a man who can do it". The US president has doubled down on his decision to withdraw US troops from the region following the departure of his Defence Secretary James Mattis over the move. In a stinging resignation letter Mr Mattis warned that America must "show respect" to its allies. Mr Trump has defended his position, tweeting: "President Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right 'next door.' Our troops are coming home!" The US military confirmed that the order to withdraw American soldiers from Syria had been signed after Mr Trump held talks with his Turkish counterpart to negotiate the terms of the pullout. The US currently has around 2,000 troops in the civil war-racked country, where they have been deployed to assist in a multinational fight against the Islamic State (Isil) jihadist group. President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door.” Our troops are coming home!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018 Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Mr 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 US and played a major role in the war against Isil but are deemed terrorists by Ankara. Mr Trump and Mr Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and "agreed to ensure coordination between their countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria," the Turkish presidency said in a statement. Mr Trump tweeted that he and Mr Erdogan "discussed (Isil), our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area." Some fear Turkey will now have freer rein to target Kurdish fighters who were armed and trained by the US Credit: Anadolu Agency  Mr Trump's advisers have reportedly persuaded the president to withdraw the troops more slowly than he would like in order not to jeopardise their safety. A withdrawal could have extraordinary geopolitical implications, and it runs counter to long-established US policy for the region. Thousands of Isil fighters are thought to remain in Syria, but Mr Trump on Wednesday declared that "we've won against ISIS," using another acronym for the extremists. Late on Sunday he tweeted that President Erdogan had assured him that any remaining Isil fighters will be eliminated. However US politicians – including those from Mr Trump's own Republican party – and international allies fear the withdrawal is premature and would further destabilise the already devastated region. A US pullout, said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, will open the way "for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin." French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he "deeply regretted" Mr Trump's decision, and that "an ally must be reliable." Israel has been careful to point out that it respects the US decision, but analysts say that beneath those public pronouncements are concerns over whether its main enemy Iran will have a freer hand. Mr Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil within his administration, prompting the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-Isil coalition, as well as Mr Mattis.  Mr McGurk said he could not support Mr Trump's Syria decision, saying it "left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered." Plans for the troop pullout will now be overseen by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who Mr Trump announced on Sunday would replace Mr Mattis starting January 1. Unlike Mr Mattis, Mr Shanahan has never served in the military and has spent most of his career in the private sector, including with aircraft giant Boeing. Until Mr Trump finds a permanent Pentagon chief, Mr Shanahan will lead plans for US troops to leave Syria along with a significant drawdown in Afghanistan, both of which critics worry will leave war-torn regions at risk of continued and potentially heightened bloodshed.



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Trump forces Mattis out of Pentagon early as Turkish troops mass on Syrian border

Trump forces Mattis out of Pentagon early as Turkish troops mass on Syrian borderPresident Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he was replacing James Mattis as secretary of defence two months earlier than had been expected, amid what officials said was anger at the general's resignation letter and the attention it had received. Mr Trump's new appointment, the current deputy secretary of defence, Patrick Shanahan, will begin work on January, pushing out his boss from the post he was due to hold until the end of February. Though Mr Shanahan's appointment had been widely predicted, it had not been expected so suddenly. It effectively means General Mattis, who wrote a scathing resignation letter condemning the US leader's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and his disrespectful handling of allies, may not even return to the Pentagon to clear his desk. A senior White House official said that Mr Trump was irked by the attention given to Gen. Mattis' rebuke of his foreign policy. "He just wants a smooth, more quick transition and felt that dragging it out for a couple of months is not good,” the official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Pentagon officials had previously insisted Gen. Mattis would stay through February, when he would attend a NATO defence ministers meeting.     Tweeting the announcement from the White House on Sunday, Mr Trump wrote: "I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!" It was unclear whether Gen Mattis had been informed prior to the announcement.   Minutes later, further questions were raised as the president went on to appear to link the Syria withdrawal to expanding trade deals with Turkey – just as Turkish troops began to mobilise on the Syrian border. Mr Trump wrote: "I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade." Last week, Gen. Mattis, a respected military leader who served under both Barack Obama and George Bush, infuriated Mr Trump with an excoriating resignation letter in which he attacked his unilateral decision to withdraw troops from Syria and his lack of respect for America's allies. Brett McGurk, the US ISIS envoy, also announced he was quitting. But Mr Trump's announcement was welcomed by Ankara, which had long been angered by the Western alliance with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against Isil.  Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish militia as an extension of the insurgency within its territory and has vowed to dislodge it fighters from the Syrian border region. Turkey has begun reinforcing its military deployment near the Syrian border for a possible operation against Syrian Kurdish militia  Credit: AFP As the news that the general was being forced out broke, it was reported that Turkey had begun sending military reinforcements to the Syrian border – the fallout from America's  withdrawal announcement apparently starting to take effect. According to the Turkish news station TRT, which broadcast footage, soldiers were heading to the town of Manbij, an area controlled by Kurdish forces. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed the movement. "Tens of soldiers and more than 50 military gears including trucks and armoured personnel carriers as well as other carriers that carry armoured vehicles in addition to other material and ammunition where it headed to the countryside of Manbij area, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR. "Around 35 tanks and other heavy weapons, carried aboard tank carriers, crossed the Jarablus border crossing in the early evening."  Although the Americans have issued no timeline for withdrawal, it emerged on Friday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had assured Mr Trump that he would finish off the job of eradicating ISIS in Syria during a high-stakes phone call. During that same call, the US leader reportedly said: "You know what? It's yours. I'm leaving." The president has since faced intense criticism at home this past week and yesterday there appeared to be no sign of that fading. Speaking to CNN, Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said: "We're in the final stages, ISIS is now concentrated in the Euphrates river valley, we're just a few months away from finishing something we started where we would annihilate large numbers of ISIS members, and we stopped. I'm just saddened for our country." Exiled Syrian opposition leader Nasr al-Hariri urged the US to coordinate its pull-out with rebel groups. ""An uncoordinated US withdrawal may leave a void that would be filled by Daesh (Isil), the Syrian regime or Iranian militias," Mr Hariri warned on Twitter.



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Kurdish official calls on US to stop Turkish offensive

Kurdish official calls on US to stop Turkish offensiveA senior Kurdish official on Saturday urged the United States to stop Turkey launching an offensive against Kurdish areas in northern Syria, after Washington announced the withdrawal of American troops. Washington has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition.



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Trump call with Turkish leader led to US pullout from Syria

Trump call with Turkish leader led to US pullout from SyriaWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.



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Kurdish official calls on US to stop Turkish offensive

Kurdish official calls on US to stop Turkish offensiveA senior Kurdish official on Saturday urged the United States to stop Turkey launching an offensive against Kurdish areas in northern Syria, after Washington announced the withdrawal of American troops. The US has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition.



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