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.


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

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago
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US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

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.