Erdogan says Turkey can enter Afrin center at any moment

Turkish soldiers and Free Syrian Army fighters are seen after advancing in north of Afrin, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 09 March 2018
0

Erdogan says Turkey can enter Afrin center at any moment

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkish forces and allied rebels could enter the center of the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Afrin “at any moment,” a day after the capture of another key strategic town.
“Now our objective is Afrin... As of now, we have Afrin encircled. We can enter Afrin at any moment, God willing,” Erdogan told his ruling party in Ankara, a day after Turkish forces took control of the town of Jandairis west of Afrin.
“The operations in Afrin will continue until this swamp of terror is dried,” he warned, adding Turkey’s armed forces will push on after operations in Afrin and Manbij to sweep Syrian Kurdish fighters from the length of Turkey’ border with Syria. 
Ankara's claim s on Afrin were challenged by the kurdish fighters there. a spoksman for the fighters group backed by the US military said that Turkish troops are still ten kilometers far from center of Afrin.
Ankara on January 20 launched operation “Olive Branch” in the Afrin region of northern Syria against the YPG) militia who control the area but Turkey regards as a terror group. 
On Thursday, Turkey’s foreign minister said Turkish forces would complete the Afrin offensive by May and would carry out a joint offensive against Kurdish militants in Iraq with Baghdad following Iraq parliamentary elections.
Despite encountering fierce resistance — which has seen 42 Turkish troops lose their lives — the Turkish military and its Syrian allies appear to have gained new momentum in the last weeks.
The capture of Jandairis — one of the key centers in the region other than Afrin itself — was seen by analysts as giving Ankara a clear path toward its main target.
But the operation has ratcheted up tensions with the United States, pitting Turkey’s army against a militia force allied with its fellow NATO member in the battle against Daesh militants.
Erdogan also reaffirmed his previous vows that Turkey would not limit itself to clearing the Afrin region of the YPG, saying it wanted to carry on to the town of Manbij to the east and then to the Iraqi border.
“Today we are in Afrin and tomorrow we will be in Manbij. And the next day we will ensure that terrorists are cleared east of the Euphrates River up to the Iraqi border,” he said.
Manbij is regarded as a particularly delicate issue as the United States — unlike in Afrin — has a presence there, raising the prospect of a direct clash with Turkey.
On a visit to Ankara last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Turkey and the US had to solve the tensions surrounding Manbij as a “priority.”


US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

Updated 21 January 2019
0

US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

  • Former envoy Brett McGurk says the absence of a plan is increasing the risk to US forces
  • Trump announced the US withdrawal because, he said, Daesh had been defeated

WASHINGTON: The United States has no plan for Syria as it proceeds with President Donald Trump’s order to pull American troops out of the country, a top official who quit in protest at the policy said on Sunday.
Brett McGurk, who was America’s envoy to the US-led global coalition against the Daesh group, said “there’s no plan for what’s coming next” and this is increasing the risk to US forces.
He spoke in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” after a suicide bomber on Wednesday killed four Americans and 15 others in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. It was the deadliest attack to hit US troops since they deployed to Syria in 2014 to assist local forces against the Daesh group.
The bombing came after Trump’s announcement last month that he was ordering a full withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops from Syria, shocking allies and leading to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as McGurk.
Senior US officials have since given contradictory statements about US intentions, but the Pentagon said it had begun the withdrawal, although how long it would take remained uncertain.
“The president has made that clear — we are leaving. And that means our force should be really with one mission: to get out and get out safely,” McGurk told “Face the Nation.”
But he added: “Right now we do not have a plan. It increases a vulnerability of our force... It is increasing the risk to our people on the ground in Syria and will open up space for Daesh,” another acronym for IS.
Most importantly, said McGurk, the US cannot expect “a partner” such as NATO-ally Turkey to take the place of the United States.
“That is not realistic. And if our forces are under order to withdraw, as at the same time they are trying to find some formula for another coalition partner to come in, that is not workable. That is not a viable plan.”
Trump announced the US withdrawal because, he said, IS had been defeated — something McGurk and other experts dispute.
McGurk has previously warned that the US pullout would shore up Syria’s President Bashar Assad and lessen America’s leverage with Russia and Iran.