As Daesh shrinks, end game for US in Syria gets murky

American troops look out toward the border with Turkey from a small outpost near the town of Manbij in northern Syria. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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As Daesh shrinks, end game for US in Syria gets murky

WASHINGTON: The closer the US gets to its original goal in Syria of defeating the Daesh group, the murkier its end game. The battlefield is shifting as demonstrated by a deadly barrage of American air and artillery strikes on a shadowy attacker.
The Pentagon insists it is keeping its focus on defeating Daesh, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday US-backed fighters in eastern Syria faced a “perplexing” overnight assault by about 300 pro-Syrian government fighters whose nationalities, motives and makeup he could not identify.
A number of US military advisers were present alongside local allied forces, and the Americans led a punishing response that other officials said killed about 100 of the assailants.


Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

Updated 10 sec ago
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Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

  • American pastor’s detention in Turkey has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency
  • Washington warned Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless the pastor was released
ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday threatened to respond if the United States levied further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor, which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.
“We’ve already responded based on the World Trade Organization rules and will continue to do so,” Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Washington warned on Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless pastor Andrew Brunson, described by US President Donald Trump as a “hostage,” was released.
Brunson’s detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two NATO allies, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin.
The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, was at 5.8 against the dollar and 6.7 against euro on Friday.
Last week, Trump tweeted that his administration was doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Turkey, and in response Ankara sharply hiked tariffs on some US products.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday the next spiral of tit-for-tat sanctions was coming soon, in a sign of a deepening spat.
Trump prefaced Mnuchin’s remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.
Referring to Brunson, Trump said: “They have a great Christian pastor there, he’s a very innocent man.”