Why Turkey is poised to assault Syrian city


Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has complained about inconsistent statements from the United States about the creation of a border security force in northern Syria, saying Washington has to eliminate the confusion and stand by Turkey.

The radical Islamist women, as well as several men and children, are part of a group believed to number around 40 being held in northern Syria by Kurdish forces that liberated areas from ISIS control, backed by the US -led coalition.

Turkey accuses the YPG of merely being the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a rebellion in the Turkish southeast for more than three decades and is regarded as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Tillerson's denial comes days after the US-led coalition said it was working "jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force".

Ankara immediately objected, fearing the new force would be comprised of the YPG.

On Monday Erdogan accused the United States of creating an "army of terror" in Syria, along the border with Turkey, and vowed to crush the USA -backed border force.

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The row is the latest dispute between Turkey and the United States that goes beyond the YPG and Syria to include arguments over a NY court case, detained USA consulate staffers and the prosecution of Erdogan's bodyguards in the United States.

Asked whether he planned to discuss the Kurdish-led border force with U.S. President Donald Trump, Erdogan said he had no plans to call the U.S. leader. "But the United States will continue to remain engaged".

Turkish army units shelled Kurdish positions around Afrin on Thursday while convoys of tanks, armored personnel carriers and busloads of troops arrived at the border overnight, according to footage from CNN-Turk television.

The Syrian government on January 18 warned Turkey against launching a military operation in the northwestern region of Afrin, vowing that Syrian air defenses stood ready to defend against such an "act of aggression".

His comments represented the most comprehensive and ambitious articulation of Washington's often-contradictory policy in Syria since President Donald Trump took office a year ago, and they underline the extent to which the war against Isis has inevitably also entangled the U.S. in the region's other conflicts.

With Isis now beaten back into a small pocket of territory along the Iraq-Syria border, the USA has to address the reality that Iran's support for Assad in Syria has given Tehran a vastly expanded reach, he said.

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Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Turkish military activities near the borders with Afrin have continued, as well as shelling of the outskirts of the town.

Syria's government, which has mostly avoided conflict with the Kurds, called it a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty.

Cavusoglu said Turkey wasn't satisfied with the USA explanations, while adding that it has no interest in colliding with the US over the operation. Russia, the government's ally, warned it was a step towards the partition of Syria.

"We are not involved with them at all", he said.

Why would a Turkish assault on Afrin matter?

"These forces will augment local security in liberated areas and protect local populations", the statement said, referring to ISIL by its Arabic acronym.

Kurdish officials say there could be 1m people living in Afrin. "Some people mis-spoke", he told reporters on his plane late Wednesday.

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