Erdogan rejects joint US-Kurdish patrols near Syria border

“I believe when we speak with Trump, they will probably stop this process,” said Erdogan.
Updated 06 November 2018
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Erdogan rejects joint US-Kurdish patrols near Syria border

  • Erdogan said he’ll discuss the patrols in Syria with US President Donald Trump in Paris
  • The US has backed and armed the SDF, describing them as allies in its fight against Daesh militants in Syria

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that joint US-Kurdish patrols just over the Turkish border with Syria were unacceptable and he expected US President Donald Trump to stop them.

Erdogan, set to meet Trump in Paris this weekend, told reporters he would discuss the patrols that he said were being carried out inside Syria by the US and allied Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“I believe when we speak with Trump, they will probably stop this process,” he said.

The SDF said on Friday that US troops had started patrolling the border in a bid to defuse tensions with Ankara — though it did not say whether its own forces had joined in. The US-led coalition in Syria said there had been no increase in patrolling.

Erdogan’s concerns underlined the complex web of allegiance and enmity along the border that has been exacerbated by the civil war over the frontier in Syria.

The US has backed and armed the SDF, describing them as allies in its fight against Daesh militants in Syria.

That US-Kurdish alliance has alarmed Turkey — which says that Kurdish YPG fighters inside the SDF coalition are an offshoot of an outlawed militant group inside its own territory.

Turkish military advances into northern Syria over the past two years have put US forces directly in the path of advancing troops from Turkey, Washington’s main Muslim NATO ally.

In another sign of the complex situation, the US and Turkey began separate joint patrols in northern Syria on Thursday with the aim of averting clashes between Turkey and Washington’s Kurdish allies.

But Ankara pressed on with a new offensive nearby on the Kurdish forces that Washington trains and arms.

Last week, Turkish forces shelled positions in northern Syria under SDF control.

Erdogan last week vowed to crush Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates, where some 2,000 US forces stand alongside the SDF.


Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

Updated 10 min 35 sec ago
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Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

  • Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital
  • Mitiga airport offers air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents

TRIPOLI: Libya has reopened Tripoli’s only functioning airport, aviation authorities said on a post on social media on Sunday.

Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital, but a later Facebook post noted the arrival of an African Airlines aircraft from Istanbul.

A Reuters reporter and several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.

An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground.

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It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district in the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Authorities earlier closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 200 km to the east, remained open.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Muammar Qaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a US statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a cease-fire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli on Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 227 people and wounded 1,128, the World Health organization said before the air strikes.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.