Donald Trump urges Turkey to limit military actions in Syria

US President Donald Trump urged Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to curtail a military operation against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018
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Donald Trump urges Turkey to limit military actions in Syria

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump urged Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to curtail a military operation against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria and avoid actions that risk conflict with American forces in the region, the White House said.
The two leaders spoke on the day Erdogan announced that Turkey would extend its military operation to the Syrian town of Manbij, a move that could bring Turkish forces into possible confrontation with those of their NATO ally the United States.
“President Trump relayed concerns that escalating violence in Afrin, Syria, risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria,” the White House said in a statement.
Those goals include defeating Islamic State and bringing more than 100,000 Syrian refugees back to their home country, Trump told Erdogan.
“He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees,” it said. “He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”
Erdogan told Trump in the call that the United States must halt weapons support to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, Erdogan’s office said.
Turkey’s air and ground “Operation Olive Branch” in the Afrin region of northern Syria is now in its fifth day, targeting YPG fighters and opening a new front in Syria’s multi-sided civil war.
The operation intended to “purge terrorist elements” from Afrin for Turkey’s national security and was conducted on the basis of international law, the Turkish president’s office said in a statement.
The United States has around 2,000 special forces troops in Syria who were deployed in March.
The Turkish incursion could threaten US plans to rebuild a large area of northeast Syria beyond President Bashar Assad’s control.
Turkey sees the YPG — the most powerful faction within the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces rebel group — as an extension of a Kurdish group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey. Ankara says it will not allow the Kurdish fighters to control a strip of Syrian territory on its southern border.
“President Trump also expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey,” the White House said.
The United States has expressed concern over the detention of locals employed at diplomatic missions in Turkey and the fate of US citizens, including a Christian missionary, detained since a failed coup in July 2016.


German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

Updated 5 min 17 sec ago
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German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

  • New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions

BERLIN: German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are ending projects in Iran after Washington imposed new sanctions against Tehran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.
New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions, including oil major Total as well as carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler.
State-owned Deutsche Bahn is involved in two projects in Iran via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”
Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 for the first project, which aimed to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization, she said.
The second project, which started around 1-1/2 years ago, was a consulting contract for Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company, the spokeswoman added.
Separately, Detecon, a subsidiary of T-Systems — Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm — has terminated its business in Iran, a spokesman said. Detecon offers consulting services to companies in the telecommunications industry.
“Until the decision to stop operations was made, sales in Iran in 2018 amounted to around €300,000,” he said.
“Given the sensitivity in relations with Iran worldwide, Detecon ended its business in Iran with immediate effect in mid-May 2018.”
The ending of Telekom’s involvement in Iran followed soon after the announcement that its US unit, T-Mobile, would buy Sprint Corp. in a $26 billion deal that remains subject to the approval of US regulators.