Erdogan says won’t allow US to delay Syria ‘safe zone’

Putin said the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is “pulling a trick in Manbij.” (File/AFP)
Updated 29 August 2019

Erdogan says won’t allow US to delay Syria ‘safe zone’

  • Turkey and US agreed to set up a buffer zone between the Turkish and Syria borders
  • The agreement also stated that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units would withdraw

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Turkey would not allow the US to delay the establishment of a ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria, in comments published on Thursday.
Ankara and Washington earlier this month agreed after difficult talks to set up a buffer zone between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia.
The NATO allies agreed to set up a joint operations center which Turkey said at the weekend was at full capacity.
“We will never allow a delay similar to that in Manbij. The process should advance swiftly,” Erdogan said, according to CNN Turk broadcaster.
Turkey and the United States in May last year agreed a road map including the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij in northern Syria.
“The agreement made with the US toward clearing the east of the Euphrates (river) from the YPG and setting up a safe zone is the right step,” Erdogan said after returning from talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He said the YPG was “pulling a trick in Manbij” and had not withdrawn. Turkey has repeatedly accused the US of delaying the previous deal.
Ankara says the YPG is a “terrorist” offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.
But the US worked closely with the YPG in the fight against Daesh.
Turkey-US relations have been particularly tense over American support to the YPG but other issues remain, including the failure to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher blamed for the 2016 failed coup in Turkey.
But Erdogan said joint US-Turkey patrols would “start soon” as part of the latest agreement for northern Syria.
He said Turkish forces and armored vehicles were already at the border, adding: “We are in a position where we can do anything at any moment.”
Turkey repeatedly threatened to launch a third cross-border offensive in Syria against the YPG until the US-Turkey agreement.
Previous offensives by the Turkish military supporting Syrian rebels took place against Daesh in 2016 and against the YPG in early 2018.

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.


Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 


Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.