Published: Sun, February 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

PKK/YPG terrorists 'neutralized' in Afrin operation, Turkish military says

PKK/YPG terrorists 'neutralized' in Afrin operation, Turkish military says

The United States and Turkey agreed on Friday to try to rescue a strategic relationship that Washington acknowledged had reached a crisis point, with Turkey proposing a joint deployment in Syria if a US-backed Kurdish militia leaves a border area.

"We have always been clear with Turkey that the weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces would be limited, mission-specific, and provided on an incremental basis to achieve military objectives only", Tillerson said at a press briefing with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. "We have taken an important turn in terms of normalizing our relations".

Turkey, which views Kurdish militants as terrorists and a top domestic threat, launched a military offensive against US -supported Syrian-Kurdish forces in Afrin, a region in northwest Syria.

The sour state of relations has deteriorated rapidly in the past month after Turkey launched an offensive against the USA -backed YPG militia in Afrin in northern Syria.

Ahead of the meeting, Turkey had called for the United States to expel the YPG from the anti-Islamic State SDF forces it is backing in Syria. It will be critical to see what kind of steps the two allies take - especially in Syria - in the days leading up to their planned "working group" meeting in March. Were going to act together from this point forward. Turkey describes them as terrorists.

He added that Turkey and the USA had to solve the tensions surrounding the Kurdish militia-held Syrian town of Manbij - which Ankara has threatened to attack - as a "priority".

There were high expectations regarding U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Ankara, as relations between Turkey and the U.S. have deteriorated over the last few months.

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Turkey is the main Muslim ally of the United States within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and one of Washington's most powerful friends in the Middle East dating back to the Cold War era.

He said: "We are getting closer to victory with each passing day".

Turkish forces engaged in Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish militias in the northwest of Syria have used gas, RT reported citing Syrian state media SANA.

The Trump administration appears to have pulled relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey away from a "crisis point" after a slew of high-level meetings over the past week.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım evaluated regional developments and shared insight into Turkey's counterterrorism efforts during the 54th Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But the joint statement issued Friday contained only anodyne affirmations of respect and a promise to keep talking.

United States support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria has infuriated Ankara, which views them as a security threat along its frontier. Turkey fears that the Syrian Kurds will provide arms to Turkish Kurds who have been waging an armed struggle against the government.

"The target for the military operations needs to continue to be [Islamic State] and the United Nations listed terrorist organizations, " Federica Mogherini said in Bulgaria.

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