Published: Tue, January 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkish Attack on Syrian Kurds 'Destabilizing'

Turkish Attack on Syrian Kurds 'Destabilizing'

USA troops have been in Syria, along with other forces, in a bid to fight #ISIS groups that have settled into Syria, taking advantage of the disarray. "We recognize and fully appreciate Turkey's legitimate right to protect its own citizens from terrorist elements that may be launching attacks against Turkish citizens and Turkish soil from Syria", Tillerson told journalists, alongside his United Kingdom counterpart Boris Johnson. US officials quickly called on Turkey to limit the scope and duration of the operation to avoid civilian casualties.

Behind a façade of continuity, the deployment of USA armed forces in Syria for the purposes that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described in a speech this week represents a departure from what such forces were originally sent to Syria to do.

Divergence of views on the YPG has been one of the major sources of tension between Turkey and the United States, which view the militia group as an ally in the war against ISIS.

In the latest operation in Afrin, Turkey mobilised thousands of FSA fighters within Turkey as well as in Syria to fight the Kurdish fighters. The U.S. focus in recent years has been on eastern Syria.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday he was "concerned" about the offensive, while European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said she would discuss the situation with Turkish officials.

Ankara's strategic relations with the U.S., another North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally who actively supports and trains the Syrian Kurds, are likely to be severely affected as the battle for Afrin intensifies.

While Washington and other Western capitals expressed concern, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he had secured a go-ahead for the campaign from Russian Federation, principal backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, long Turkey's foe.

"We will take no step back".

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Turkey's forces have crossed into northern Syrian to assault the Kurdish-held area of Afrin, raising alarm in Western capitals that Turkish troops are attacking the same fighters who helped defeat the Islamic of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Afrin campaign could lead to "the return of regional terrorism and extremism", according to state television.

It was unclear, however, how far Turkey or its proxy forces had advanced on Afrin or surrounding Kurdish areas.

The Afrin district houses an estimated 800,000 civilians, including displaced people from earlier years of the Syrian war.

The People's Defense Units is more popularly known by its Kurdish acronym YPG. "This is a tough situation where there are a lot of civilians mixed in", the top USA diplomat said.

Turkish army tanks wait near the border before entering Syria, on January 21, 2018 at Hassa, in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border.

On Monday, Ankara governor's office said it banned all rallies, protests, meetings, concerts and similar organisations acroos the capital, for as long as the "Operation Olive Branch" is underway.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said Turkey has never made such a commitment to Russian Federation, reported Anadolu. And then, as soon as Turkey makes an issue of it, immediately drop the Kurds altogether, saying "we have nothing to do with them" and basically give Turkey a free hand to slaughter them.

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