Washington gives green light for Turkey to enter Kurdish-controlled Syria

Washington has given the green light for Turkey to launch its long-threatened military operation into northeastern Syria to clear border areas of Kurdish militia.

The White House press statement issued on Sunday said: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”

The statement follows a telephone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to an earlier written statement by the Turkish Presidency, Erdogan late on Sunday expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and security officials for not implementing what the agreement between the two countries required.
The two NATO allies, Ankara and Washington, agreed in August to set up a “safe zone” in northeast Syria along the border with Turkey, but they are at odds over how far it should extend into Syria and who should control it.
The Turkish government wants the zone to stretch 30 km (19 miles) inside Syria and be cleared of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which it labels as a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
However, the US considers YPG fighters to be a crucial ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group in Syria.
Erdogan on Sunday repeated that the creation of a safe zone is key to “neutralizing” the threats from the YPG militia and creating the necessary conditions for Syrian refugees’ return to their homeland, the statement also said.
No mention of YPG

The White House statement on Sunday made no mention of the YPG or of how far Turkish forces will go into Syria.

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate’, will no longer be in the immediate area.”

According to the statement, Turkey will take responsibility for all the captured ISIS fighters.

“The United States government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer.”
The statement did not make it immediately clear if the US will be pulling all its troops out of Syria or simply moving them back from the border.
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said: “[The] SDF is committed to the security mechanism framework and has been taking necessary steps to preserve stability in the region.

However, we will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to DEFEND ourselves and our people.”


A brief statement on the SDF’s website said: “Despite all the efforts we did to avoid conflict, our commitment to the security mechanism agreement and taking necessary steps on our end, the US forces did not carry out their responsibilities and have withdrawn from border areas with Turkey.”

It further warned that the White House’s decision would have a negative impact on the ongoing fight against ISIS.

“As the Syrian Democratic Forces, we are determined to defend our land at all costs. We call on our Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, and Syriac people to strengthen their unity and stand by the SDF in defense of their land,” it added.

Convoy to the border

Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported late Saturday that nine trucks loaded with armored vehicles and one bus carrying military personnel had been sent to the border district of Akcakale, located in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa.

The convoy was sent to reinforce military units based on the Syrian border, Anadolu said. It is not known whether this deployment was in preparation for the long-threatened operation.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin insisted that Turkey still respected Syrian territorial integrity.

“Within the framework of the territorial integrity of Syria, the safe zone has two purposes: to clean up the elements of terrorism, to secure our borders and to ensure the safe return of refugees. Turkey is strong and stable,” he said on Twitter.

There appeared to be no immediate reaction from the European Union or the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

The Reuters news agency reported that Erdogan and Trump would meet in Washington next month upon the latter’s invitation.

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