Turkey army confirms start of new ‘Olive Branch’ operation inside Syria

Turkish jet fighters hit the People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions at the Syrian side of the border at Hassa in Hatay on Jan. 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Turkey army confirms start of new ‘Olive Branch’ operation inside Syria

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: The Turkish army on Saturday confirmed it had started a major new ground and air cross-border operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria, which Turkey deems to be a terror organization.
Dubbing the new campaign operation “Olive Branch,” the Turkish army said it had begun at 1400 GMT and was aimed against the YPG and also Daesh extremists.
The army also said the operation would be carried out “with respect for Syria’s territorial integrity” and stemmed from Turkey’s rights under international law.
“Our armed forces have started an air campaign in order to destroy elements” of the YPG, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a televised speech. An AFP correspondent on the Turkish side of the border saw two warplanes launch air strikes inside Syrian territory.
Meanwhile, units of pro-Ankara rebels known by Turkey as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) began moving into the Afrin area of Syria which is controlled by the YPG, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.


EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wants the European Union to do more to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 2 sec ago
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EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

  • Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.
  • Zarif spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran.

TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that European efforts to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US were not sufficient.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Zarif told reporters.

He spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran — the first by a Western official since Washington announced its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this month.

“With the exit of the United States from the nuclear deal, the expectations of the Iranian public toward the European Union have increased... and the EU’s political support for the nuclear agreement is not sufficient,” Zarif added in comments carried by state broadcaster IRIB.

Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.

French oil major Total said last week it would abandon its $4.8-billion investment project in Iran unless it was granted a waiver from Washington.

Another French energy giant, Engie, said Saturday it would cease engineering work in Iran before November, when US sanctions are due to be reimposed.

“The European Union must take concrete supplementary steps to increase its investments in Iran. The commitments of the EU to apply the nuclear deal are not compatible with the announcement of probable withdrawal by major European companies,” Zarif said.

Canete said he recognized that time was short and that clear measures were needed from Europe to protect investments and oil purchases.

Iran has threatened to resume industrial uranium enrichment “without limit” if its interests are not protected.