Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to proceed navy motion to rid Syria of US-allied Kurdish militias, regardless of a warning from Washington for Turkey to not danger a conflict with its forces within the area.
Turkish operations continued Wednesday towards Kurdish militants in Afrin, a Kurdish-held enclave in north-western Syria.
But, in a phone name with Erdogan, US President Donald Trump urged the Turkish chief to “avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces” and emphasised the “shared goal” of the lasting defeat of the Islamic State terrorist motion, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders mentioned in an announcement.
Trump “relayed concerns” that the escalating violence in Afrin “risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria,” Sanders added.
Operation “Olive Branch” in Afrin, a Kurdish-held space near the Turkish border, was launched on Saturday. Erdogan mentioned the plan is to now lengthen the mission to Manbij, a metropolis captured from the Islamic State motion in 2016 by Kurdish-led forces, backed by the US.
A Kurdish official informed dpa that US troopers stay inside Manbij. Analysts have cautioned that the realm may very well be a flashpoint in already strained relations between Washington and Ankara.
“Starting with Manbij, we will destroy this game along our borders and completely cleanse our region of this mischief,” Erdogan mentioned, vowing to “exterminate the terrorists.”
Erdogan mentioned 268 “terrorists” in Afrin have been neutralized – a time period Ankara makes use of to discuss with their removing from the battlefield, often by way of demise.
The primary Kurdish militia within the space, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has not verified the casualties and reported solely a number of of its fighters killed.
Erdogan mentioned the Turkish Army and allied Syrian rebels had misplaced seven or eight fighters within the ongoing offensive. The operation is aimed toward enabling three.5 million refugees in Turkey to return to Syria, he mentioned.
Human rights observers declare that there have been greater than a dozen civilian casualties. Turkey denies hitting any civilians.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights mentioned in its newest demise toll report that some 125 individuals have been killed over the past 5 days within the Afrin area, amongst them Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
The group mentioned that 28 civilians, together with eight youngsters, have been amongst these killed. Kurdish officers positioned the civilian demise toll increased.
Late Wednesday, within the Turkish border city Kilis, a Turkish civilian and a Syrian have been killed by rocket hearth that originated in Syria, native broadcasters reported. Earlier this week, a Syrian refugee was killed by the same strike.
Shervan Derwish, a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, mentioned his forces are on “full alert” in case Turkey strikes on the town, the place US-led coalition forces are nonetheless current.
“We are in constant contact with coalition forces, who are conducting patrols on the front lines and aerial patrols – their troops are still in Manbij,” Derwish informed dpa by cellphone.
He accused Turkey of waging an offensive aimed “against the Kurdish people.”
Manbij is situated to the east of Afrin. In between the 2 cities lies a Turkish-controlled zone.
The US has equipped weapons to the Syrian Democratic Forces to battle Islamic State forces, angering Turkey, which sees the YPG as extra of a menace because of its hyperlinks to Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a delegated terrorist group.
US officers have but to supply readability on their stance on the Turkish operation on Afrin, apart from expressing concern it might result in volatility and dangers complicating the battle towards Islamic State, whereas additionally supporting Ankara’s proper to safety.
In their Wednesday name, Erdogan and Trump additionally welcomed the return of greater than 100,000 refugees to Syria after the defeat of Islamic State forces. They additionally “discussed the need to stabilize a unified Syria that poses no threats to its neighbours, including Turkey,” the White House mentioned.
On Thursday, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl plans to fulfill in Istanbul along with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, looking for a return to “positive dialogue” and restoration of regular relations after latest tensions between Vienna and Ankara.
The new Austrian authorities’s coalition settlement cements opposition to European Union membership talks with Turkey.(dpa/NAN)