Tuesday, 14 August, 2018


US Steps Up Efforts to End Turkey's Kurdish Offensive

Rocket fired from Syria's Afrin by PKK  PYD terrorists hits Turkey's Hatay Rocket fired from Syria's Afrin by PKK PYD terrorists hits Turkey's Hatay
Bennie Garza | 26 January, 2018, 08:21

The military operation in Syria's Afrin continued for the fifth day.

A push towards Manbij, in a separate Kurdish-held enclave some 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, could threaten US plans to stabilise a swath of northeast Syria.

The United States has around 2,000 special forces troops in Syria, officially as part of an global US-led coalition, assisting the Kurds in battle against Islamic State.

Now the Kurds, whose unofficial national motto admits they have "no friends but the mountains", fear they will be the forgotten victims as Turkey, Russia and the United States manoeuvre for influence.

The online crackdown includes the arrest of politicians, journalists and activists who have voiced concern over the assault, according to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party. "We have started what we have called Astana process and within this Astana summit we have achieved the creation of four de-escalation zones", the Russian envoy said.

Differences over Syria policy have already strained Turkey's relations with Washington nearly to a breaking point. Manbij is a city far east of Afrin and south of Turkey, where the US maintains a military presence.

While the United Nations and its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have supported Turkey's Red Crescent in accommodating Syrian refugees inside Turkey, they stopped operations in Afrin since the Turkish offensive began, Kinik said.

The Trump administration is pressing Turkey and US -backed Kurdish forces to pull back from a deepening military conflict in Syria, warning Ankara not to target its Kurdish partners and telling the fighters not to join the battle against Turkey.

But a Turkish official said the USA statement did "not accurately reflect the content" of the call, adding that Trump did not share any concerns regarding "escalating violence".

The U.K. -based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that at least 42 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Saturday.

"We are in full readiness to respond to any attack".

"Damascus knows that the YPG militias (People's Protection Units) want to divide Syria".

Kurdish fighters, whom Turkey considers "terrorists", are possibly the closest partners for the USA in the anti-Isis battle. The delegation is meeting Turkish military generals and senior foreign policy officials.

The Turkish air and ground offensive to crush Kurdish YPG fighters in the Afrin district of northern Syria has opened a new front in a civil war which has seen shifting alliances between factions on the ground and their foreign sponsors.

Damascus has aggressively condemned Turkey's presence within Syria's borders and threatened to shoot Turkish planes out of the sky if they violate Syria's sovereignty.

The offensive has opened a new front in Syria's multi-sided, seven-year-old civil war and complicated US efforts in Syria.

Bad weather, including heavy rain, has hampered Turkey's offensive.

In addition to Afrin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to drive the SDF from the town of Manbji in the east. The force is mainly Kurdish-led but has Arab fighters among its ranks.

The US and Turkey are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies but they have diverging interests in the Syrian civil war.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called on Turkey to use restraint in its operations in Syria, warning that it could be exploited by ISIS and Al-Qaeda and it "risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis that most of Syria is going through".

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