YPG battle looms after USA pullout announcement

Dec 28, 2018, 00:26
YPG battle looms after USA pullout announcement

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent more troops to Syria's border on Monday ahead of an imminent USA withdrawal, as the White House announced he had invited Donald Trump to Ankara.

Syrian government troops backed by Russian forces have sent extra troops towards the city of Manbij in coordination with the militia that controls it, a militia spokesman said, as Turkish-backed Syrian rebels said they were preparing to attack it.

Turkey is reportedly trying to coordinate with the American government and Russian Federation its efforts to push the YPG, considered terrorists by Ankara, out of the territory it controls in northern Syria, which lies along the Turkish border, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared Tuesday.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

Syrian government forces have entered the country's northern border region of Manbij controlled by Kurdish fighters, local sources told Al Jazeera and Turkey's state-run Anadolu agency. Cavusoglu told Turkish media during a briefing that Ankara has "the power to neutralise (IS) alone" amid fears that a USA pull-out will hurt the fight against Islamic State.

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Trump announced last week that he intends to withdraw the USA troops, who have been part of a coalition battling the Islamic State, claiming victory over the terror group.

Erdogan's comments come after Turkey invited President TrumpDonald John TrumpPresident Trump, first lady attend Christmas service at National Cathedral Trump open to visiting Turkey in 2019 but no "definite" plans, White House says Trump has weighed dismissing Mnuchin: Bloomberg MORE to visit in 2019.

The YPG serves as the military backbone of the SDF.

"We closely coordinate our views and the implementation of a concrete policy in Syria with our Turkish colleagues", Zakharova added.

A delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of SDF, arrived in Russian Federation last week for talks. The French military has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.

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In a Twitter posting on Monday, Trump said Erdogan vowed to continue the fight against ISIS.

Critics of Trump's decision fear that thousands of IS extremist members are still thought to be in Syria, despite Trump's claim of having defeated IS.

Trump's shock order came after Erdogan convinced him that Turkey could eliminate the last remaining pockets of ISIS after the jihadists suffered a series of military defeats. "It would be a bitter choice, but certainly better than a Turkish invasion", an official with the People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish group in Syria, told VOA last week on condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, Turkey has been working to strengthen its military position both along the Syrian border and by proxy forces already inside the country.

He subsequently said the United States withdrawal would be coordinated with Turkey, who would take over the reins of the war on ISIS.

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