Turkey sends troops to Syria border as US prepares for pullout talks

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Ankara (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan despatched extra troops to Syria’s border on Monday forward of an imminent US withdrawal, threatening a Kurdish militia there as a US delegation ready for talks on the pullout.

US President Donald Trump’s resolution to withdraw 2,000 US troops from northern Syria has dismayed lots of Washington’s allies, and critics say Turkey will look to profit in its combat in opposition to US-backed Kurdish forces inside Syria.

Turkey has mentioned any offensive concentrating on the Syrian Kurdish Folks’s Safety Models (YPG) militia and the Islamic State (IS) group can be launched within the coming months.

Turkey views the YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Employees’ Social gathering (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in opposition to the Turkish state since 1984.

However the militia has additionally been a key US ally within the combat in opposition to Islamic State in Syria, working with American forces on the bottom there.

“Simply as we didn’t go away our Syrian Arabs to Daesh (IS), we won’t go away Syrian Kurds to the cruelty of the PKK,” Erdogan mentioned throughout a speech in Ankara.

A Turkish army convoy arrived in a single day on Monday on the border with Syria, with native media reporting that some autos had entered Syria.

Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin informed reporters on Monday {that a} US army delegation would arrive this week to “focus on how one can coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts”.

Kalin additionally mentioned {that a} Turkish international ministry delegation would go to Washington for talks on the pull-out on January 8.

In a phone dialog Sunday between Trump and Erdogan, which each side described as “productive”, they agreed to keep away from an influence vacuum in Syria after the US withdrawal.

– ‘No slowdown’ in IS combat –

Not like a number of different allies of the US, Turkey has praised Trump’s resolution to withdraw 2,000 of his floor forces from Syria.

Trump shocked the US political institution and allies final week together with his resolution, days after Erdogan had warned that Ankara would quickly launch an offensive in northern Syria.

Critics of Trump’s resolution concern that hundreds of Islamic State (IS) group extremist members are nonetheless considered in Syria, regardless of Trump’s declare of getting defeated IS.

The US chief tweeted that Erdogan had informed him Ankara would “eradicate” the final IS components.

And Kalin vowed that there was “no query of a step backwards, vulnerability or a slowdown within the combat in opposition to Daesh (IS)”.

He added: “Turkey will present the identical dedication in opposition to Daesh. To beat Daesh, we do not want the PKK or the YPG. We will carry peace to this area.”

– Convoy enters Syria –

The Turkish army convoy with howitzers, artillery batteries and a number of other items of the armed forces, was deployed to the border district of Elbeyli in Kilis province, state information company Anadolu reported on Monday.

Components of the convoy had entered Syria, the non-public IHA information company reported, which mentioned the reinforcements would happen “step by step”.

The deployment started over the weekend with round 100 autos, the Hurriyet each day mentioned, and crossed into the Al-Bab area, headed in direction of Jarabulus and YPG-held Manbij.

Jarabulus and Al-Bab had been areas captured from IS throughout Ankara’s first army operation in August 2016 which lasted till March 2017.

Navy reinforcements had additionally been despatched to the Akcakale border city and Ceylanpinar district, each within the southeastern Sanliurfa province.

Turkey carried out a second offensive with Syrian rebels in opposition to the YPG in its northwestern enclave of Afrin in January this yr.

Turkish officers have beforehand mentioned Ankara has no territorial ambitions in Syria.

– Warming Turkey-US relations –

Trump’s transfer has sparked dismay amongst allies and turmoil throughout the administration. First Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigned, then Brett McGurk, the particular envoy to the anti-IS coalition, stepped down.

American assist for the YPG, beneath the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, has lengthy been a supply of rigidity between NATO allies the US and Turkey.

However relations between the Turkish and American leaders seem to have improved considerably since a disaster in the summertime over the detention of a US pastor, since launched.

Final week, the US authorized the sale of $3.5 billion in missiles to Turkey, after American outrage over Ankara’s main arms buy from Russia.

However there are nonetheless strains over the US refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher who Turkey says ordered the 2016 failed coup.

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