Tensions rise between Turkey & Syria

Tensions rise between Turkey & Syria

The Turkish Foreign Ministry is briefing the heads of mission of the United States, Russia and Iran in Turkey on the latest developments in Afrin, Anadolu reported.

Washington has said it plans to train a 30,000-member border force composed mainly of fighters drawn from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to combat remaining jihadist factions in northern Syria and to ensure IS is unable to engineer a comeback.

Meanwhile, the ministry denied Turkish claims that Ankara informed Damascus about the attack beforehand, saying the Turkish claims are part of a series of lies from the Turkish regime.

Turkey has been staunchly opposing USA cooperation with the SDF, as the group is made up mostly of militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG), a group Turkey considers terrorist for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey's government had named the offensive "Operation Olive Branch", according to a military statement, which asserted that the Turkish military action was aimed both at Kurdish militias as well as the Islamic State.

The Kurdish militia, which forms the backbone of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, now controls almost 25 percent of Syrian territory.

"We will destroy the terror corridor gradually as we did in Jarabulus and Al-Bab operations, starting from the west", Turkey's Erdogan said, referring to previous operations in northern Syria created to push out ISIS and check the YPG's advance.

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Erdogan and his ministers have repeatedly called on the Trump administration to stop arms resupplies to the Syria Kurds, and they dismiss as "unworkable" US promises to reclaim American-supplied weapons later from the YPG.

"It is vital for the United States to remain engaged in Syria", he said in a speech to a US research organization audience.

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet that the operation isn't targeting civilians and "innocent Syrians" - just terrorists. There are also troops from the US-led coalition fighting jihadists.

"If attacked, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves and our people", the command said in a statement, "but we state in front of the world that we harbor no hostile intent towards Turkey".

Instead, the United States has called on Turkey to focus on the fight against Islamic State.

The area likely to be invaded by Turkish forces lies between Afrin and Manbij, a town Turkey already controls following an incursion the Turks launched into Syria in mid-2016. On Thursday morning, it was hit by Turkish artillery strikes.

The YPG is the driving force behind a coalition of north Syrian forces allied with the United States to battle the Islamic State.

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