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UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:51 pm

Trump Slams Erdogan Over Syria Attack
Warns of Clash With U.S.


President Donald Trump warned Turkey against expanding its military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, telling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that such action could lead to direct conflict with U.S. forces, the White House said.

Trump urged Turkey “to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees,” the White House said Wednesday in a readout of Trump’s call with Erdogan. “He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

The harshly worded statement signaled Trump’s growing impatience with moves by Erdogan to crack down on Kurdish fighters that are supported by the U.S. but regarded by Turkey as terrorists. Trump also rebuked Erdogan over recent criticism of the U.S. The Turkish leader has publicly accused America of supporting terrorists by backing Kurdish fighters.

“Trump also expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey,” the White House said.

Longstanding frictions between the NATO allies over Washington’s backing of Syrian Kurdish fighters escalated on Sunday when Ankara, in defiance of the U.S., sent tanks and warplanes across the border into the Afrin region, to chase the Kurdish forces from a border enclave they control. The offensive on Afrin threatens to rekindle Syria’s seven-year civil war.

Its trigger was a plan by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State to set up a new armed force in an area of northeast Syria near Turkey’s border, controlled by Kurdish fighters who are working with American troops. Erdogan condemned a statement by one U.S. military official that a “border security force” was being established, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disowned that description.

The U.S. statement comes after Erdogan vowed to extend Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria to another town, Manbij, where there are U.S. troops embedded with local Kurdish fighters. When Erdogan sent his army into Afrin, Russian forces in that area pulled out, clearing the way for the Turkish advance. The White House statement suggests that U.S. soldiers may not do the same -- raising the prospect of a direct clash between the NATO armies, unless Erdogan backs down.

The Kurds were the main ground force in the U.S. campaign to rout Islamic State from Syria, but Turkey regards them as a separatist menace with designs on its territory. The dispute has pushed NATO member Turkey into alliance with Russia and Iran, as the three countries collaborate to impose a Syrian peace plan.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... t-with-u-s
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:47 am

Geneva voices concerns over Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurds

The city of Geneva has urged Turkey to end its cross-border operation against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria. On Wednesday, hundreds of Kurds protested at the symbolic Place des Nations square in the Swiss city.

In a statement released on Wednesdayexternal link, the city of Geneva authorities said they were concerned by Turkey’s “non-respect of basic Geneva Convention principles” since its aerial bombing operation – now in its fifth day – particularly against the Rubar refugee camp, which is home to 20,000 people.

The Swiss foreign affairs ministry has not reacted to the events in Syria. The city of Geneva, however, reminded that the Geneva Conventions require Turkey to protect civilians, and to guarantee access to the wounded and to humanitarian aid.

Turkey has been carrying out an air and ground operation in the Afrin region targeting US-backed Kurdish YPG fighters, which Ankara sees as allies of Kurdish insurgents who have fought in south-eastern Turkey for decades.

Speaking with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan by telephone on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump reportedly urged Turkey to curtail its military operation in Syria, and warned it not to bring US and Turkish forces into conflict. However, a Turkish source said a White House readout did not accurately reflect the conversation.

Meanwhile, Erdogan has vowed to extend the military operation to Manbij, a separate Kurdish-held enclave 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, possibly putting US forces supporting the Kurds against the Islamic State group at risk.
Protest and Syria peace talks

On Wednesday, some 350 Kurds demonstrated outside the UN headquarters in Geneva against Erdogan and the military operation in northern Syria.

Swiss parliamentarian Carlo Sommaruga told protestors (see clip below) that he and other Swiss politicians planned to contact the authorities in Bern to call on Ankara to end its military operation against the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria.

The developments came as Syrian government and opposition officials gathered in Vienna on Thursday for a two-day ‘last hope’ meeting to address issues surrounding a new constitution.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/conflict-a ... s/43851314
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:51 am

AP FACT CHECK:
Shades of gray in Turkey’s stated Syria goals

The Turkish attack on the Syrian border town of Afrin, controlled by Kurdish fighters, has been long anticipated — Turkish officials have been threatening to launch the offensive and preparing for it for months.

However, Ankara’s stated strategic goals for the operation codenamed Operation Olive Branch come with a great deal of bluster and little clarity.

Some Turkish officials have said the main aim is the creation of a 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep “secure zone” in Afrin, which Turkey says is essential for its security. Others say the operation aims to oust a militia of between 8,000 to 10,000 fighters affiliated with the People’s Protection Units or YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group that has controlled territory in northern Syria and a proven top U.S. ally in fighting the Islamic State group.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey. Founded in 2004, the group is the main defense force for the Kurdish areas in northern Syria, and has sought to expand Kurdish control and autonomy in the course of Syria’s war.

On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s concern was to facilitate the return of 3.5 million Syrians who live in Turkey to their country. The shifting goals reflect Turkey’s own evolving involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Here’s a look at some of the recent remarks by Turkish officials on the goals and extent of the Afrin offensive:

TURKISH PRIME MINISTER BINALI YILDRIM said the strikes on Afrin marked the start of a campaign to “eliminate the PYD and PKK and Daesh elements in Afrin,” referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party respectively, and using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

THE FACTS: The Islamic State group is not known to have any presence in Afrin. Turkey has long maintained that it is in Syria to fight both the YPG and the Islamic State group, but its priority has largely been to limit Syrian Kurdish expansion and keep the powerful Kurdish militia from linking up its territory east and west of the Euphrates River. In 2016, Turkey launched a cross-border operation with Syrian opposition forces into Jarablus. That operation cleared the Turkish border and routed much of IS from the area but it also aimed to prevent the YPG from linking the Afrin and Kobani Kurdish enclaves.

In the current offensive, Turkish troops and the Syrian rebels it supports have only been targeting Kurdish fighters. A senior U.S. official says Washington is concerned that Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin could distract from the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and could be exploited by extremists to re-supply or create safe havens.

TURKISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER BEKIR BOZDAG has told a group of foreign journalists in Istanbul that “700 rockets attacks have taken place on the Turkish side of the border with Syria” in the past few years and that civilians have also been targeted. Other officials have said the aim is to secure Turkey’s border and guard against “terror” attacks.

THE FACTS: The YPG is not known to have claimed or actively carried out any terror attacks inside Turkey. However, the Turkish government equates the YPG with the PKK and treats them as a single organization and the PKK has indeed carried out large-scale attacks in inside Turkey. Turkey claims that the PKK is infiltrating into the country from Afrin and using it as an operating base.

TURKISH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN said on Wednesday that “this operation will continue until every last member of the terrorist organization who has been equipped over the past few years (by America) with 5,000 trucks and 2,000 aircraft full of weapons is neutralized. We see it as our obligation to cleanse all terrorist organizations.”

THE FACTS: While the U.S. has provided training, weapons and logistical support for the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces it dominates, that aid is not known to have extended west of the Euphrates to Afrin. Afrin has been a much more problematic Kurdish-controlled area for Washington, because it is a separate entity in western Syria. Turkey had said it will not accept YPG presence west of the Euphrates.

U.S. officials speaking in Ankara on Wednesday said the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Afrin are not part of the group that received help from the U.S.-led coalition in driving out IS from most of northeastern Syria. They also denied the Turkish government’s claims that the U.S. had delivered thousands of trucks of weapons to Syrian Kurdish forces, saying most of the supplies instead went to U.S. forces, and that the resources also included ammunition, food and humanitarian supplies.

The American officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mi ... a09e24b31b
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:12 pm

If asked whether I believe the Associated Press article or Turkey's lies
Associated Press ALWAYS tells the truth - Turkey ALWAYS lies

Though this map is unconnected to the above article I decided to repost it
I fear the map to be a genuine map of Turkey's plan

Please click on image to enlarge:
901
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:50 pm

Turkish Red Crescent prepares for refugee wave from Syria's Afrin

Turkey’s Red Crescent is preparing for a potential outflow of refugees from Syria’s Afrin region, where a Turkish offensive against a Kurdish militia entered a sixth day, the aid group said on Thursday.

Afrin is home to about 324,000 people, more than a third of whom are internally displaced, data from the United Nations shows. The renewed fighting puts the population - 60 percent of whom were already in need of humanitarian aid before the latest violence - at risk of death, injury and further displacement.

In an interview with Reuters, Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kinik said the organization was preparing to accommodate 50,000 people in five different camps near Afrin.

Three new campsites were being set up northeast of Afrin near Syria’s Azaz region, where most refugees are expected to head. The new camps would be additions to the two existing near Idlib, where recent fighting between Russia-backed Syrian regime forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) displaced 30,000, Kinik said.

He said the Red Crescent could accommodate many more people than expected but no civilians had come to the camps after the recent escalation in Afrin as they were not allowed to leave.

“Up until now, (Syrian Kurdish) YPG forces have not allowed civilians to leave Afrin,” he said. “In a possible migration situation, we can house more people than our prepared capacity. We are used to unexpected numbers.”

A YPG spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that civilians’ freedom of movement had been harmed by the fighting as well as by a decision by Afrin local authorities to close all entry and exit points to the district.

A limited number of families were reportedly able to move out of Afrin district towards some rural areas near Aleppo but were prevented from proceeding at Syrian government checkpoints, the world body said, citing local reports.

Kinik said he hoped around 150,000 people would be allowed to return home to Aleppo once the fighting in Afrin had finished. He also said he expected many civilians to leave Azaz and go back home to other towns in northern Syria.

While the UN and its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have supported Turkey’s Red Crescent in accommodating Syrian refugees inside Turkey, they stopped operations in Afrin since the Turkish offensive began, Kinik said.

An OCHA spokesperson said that it had suspended humanitarian transport into Syria “because of insecurity”.

“But the Turkish authorities kept the border open. Turkey did not close the border, but we suspended for security reasons our movements because of the military operation.”

Kinik said countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, which have shouldered most of the humanitarian needs caused by the Syrian war since it began almost seven years ago, deserved more support from the international community.

He described the scale of support as “truly a huge shame for humanity.”

“Especially, the Syrian crisis, forgotten and neglected, is a crisis that people don’t want to hear about anymore.”

Editing by William Maclean
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1FE2EJ
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:56 pm

Syria war: Germany suspends upgrade to Turkey tanks

The German government has put plans on hold to upgrade German-made tanks used by Turkey amid a public outcry over a Turkish offensive in northern Syria.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the decision would be taken once a new coalition government had been formed.

Pictures have been circulating in the German media of Leopard tanks being used by Turkish forces in their campaign against Kurdish forces.

Turkish-led forces began their assault in Syria's north-west on Saturday.

Air strikes pummelled the Afrin enclave before ground forces moved in against the Kurdish YPG militia.

Forty-eight Turkish-backed rebels and 42 YPG fighters have been killed in the fighting since Saturday, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group.

Germany was set to approve the upgrade - what happened?

Yes, last week Berlin seemed ready to approve Turkey's request for German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall to make its 1990s-era Leopard 2 tanks less vulnerable to explosives.

But then pictures emerged suggesting the tanks were not only being used in campaigns against the Islamic State (IS) group but also in Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" against the YPG.

Politicians not only from the German left but also Chancellor Angela Merkel's own CDU party have condemned the upgrade. Norbert Röttgen, the conservative chair of the parliamentary foreign policy committee, told the BBC the Turkish attack was a violation of international law.

There is deep unease about the Turkish incursion into Syrian territory - and the impact of its campaign on civilians.

The Observatory reports 28 civilians killed by Turkish air and artillery strikes on Afrin and another two by YPG fire inside Syria. Thousands of people have been displaced.

What's the back story here?

Conflicting alliances and interests among regional and global powers.

Turkey accuses the YPG of having links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group within its own borders.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWhy is Turkey attacking Syria? Mark Lowen explains

The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK - an assertion backed by the US, which has provided the militia and allied Arab fighters with weapons and air support to help them battle IS jihadists in Syria.

The US-Turkish tensions are illustrated by reports of a confrontational phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

While the White House says Mr Trump "urged Turkey to de-escalate" its Afrin operation, the Turkish foreign minister says Mr Erdogan demanded US troops withdraw from northern Syria's Manbij region, which is also controlled by Kurdish forces.

Mr Erdogan has reportedly said the Turkish operation will be extended to Manbij - potentially bringing the Nato allies into direct conflict. However, so far the Turkish-backed forces seem to have made slow progress.

How has Turkey reacted to the news?

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters the suspension did not amount to a complete block on defence co-operation between Turkey and Germany, one of the biggest arms exporters in the world.

"While we fight with terrorists, we expect support and solidarity from Germany," Mr Cavusoglu told reporters. "We expect them to not support terrorists, but I know they are also under pressure."

German media say the caretaker government was close to agreeing the modernisation deal with Turkey and was back-footed by the public outcry.

But the government now says it is unanimous that the decision should be taken when a new coalition government has been formed.

It is a setback for German-Turkish ties when a rapprochement had appeared to be on the horizon following a meeting between Mr Sigmar and Mr Cavusoglu earlier this month.

Relations hit rock bottom in the fallout of Turkey's crackdown in response to an attempted coup in July 2016. There has been particular anger over Ankara's detention of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in February 2017.

Link to Article - Photos:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42820151
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:59 pm

Crazy Turks threatens U.S.: 8-}
End support for Syrian Kurd YPG or risk confrontation

Turkey urged the United States on Thursday to halt its support for Kurdish YPG fighters or risk confronting Turkish forces on the ground in Syria, some of Ankara’s strongest comments yet about a potential clash with its NATO ally.

The remarks, from the spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan’s government, underscore the growing bilateral tensions, six days after Turkey launched its air and ground operation, “Olive Branch”, in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region.

In Washington, the Pentagon said that it carefully tracked weapons provided to the YPG and would continue discussions with Turkey.

“We carefully track those weapons that are provided to them, we ensure that they, to the maximum extent possible, don’t fall into the wrong hands and we’re continuing discussions with the Turks on this issue,” Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, joint staff director, told reporters.

Turkey’s targeting of the YPG, which it views as a security threat, has opened a new front in Syria’s multi-sided civil war. The Syrian Kurdish group is a main part of a U.S.-backed rebel alliance that has inflicted recent defeats on Islamic State militants.

Any push by Turkish forces towards Manbij, part of a Kurdish-held territory some 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, could threaten U.S. efforts in northeast Syria and bring them into direct confrontation with U.S. troops deployed there.

“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

“The United States needs to review its solders and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in such a way as to avoid a confrontation with Turkey,” Bozdag, who also acts as the government’s spokesman, told broadcaster A Haber.

The United States has around 2,000 troops in Syria, officially as part of an international, U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Washington has angered Ankara by providing arms, training and air support to Syrian Kurdish forces that Turkey views as terrorists.

A coalition spokesman declined to address Bozdag’s comments.

The Kurdish-led autonomous administration that runs Afrin on Thursday called on the Syrian government to defend its border with Turkey in Afrin despite Damascus’ stance against Kurdish autonomy.

“We call on the Syrian state to carry out its sovereign obligations towards Afrin and protect its borders with Turkey from attacks of the Turkish occupier,” it said in a statement on its website.

The Syrian government has said it is ready to target Turkish jets in its airspace, but has not intervened so far. It suspects the Kurds of wanting independence in the long-run and does not recognize the autonomous cantons they have set up in northern Syria.

U.S. forces were deployed in and around Manbij to deter Turkish and U.S.-backed rebels from attacking each other and have also carried out training missions in the area.

U.S. President Donald Trump urged Erdogan on Wednesday to curtail the military operation in Syria, the White House said.

However Turkey has disputed that characterization of the conversation.

Turkey Syria Incursion JPG: tmsnrt.rs/2Dy3Bhz

LIMITED GAINS

Six days into the campaign, Turkish soldiers and their Free Syrian Army rebel fighter allies have been battling to gain footholds on the western, northern and eastern flanks of Afrin.

They appear to have made only limited gains, hampered by rain and clouds, which have limited the air support.

Turkish warplanes struck the northern borders of Afrin, in tandem with heavy artillery shelling, and one civilian was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Dozens of combatants and more than two dozen civilians have been killed so far since Turkey launched the offensive, the Observatory has said.

The Turkish military said in a statement it had killed 303 militants in northern Syria since the operation started.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a YPG-dominated umbrella group backed by the United States in the fight against Islamic State, has previously said that Turkey was exaggerating the number of the dead.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have neared breaking point in recent months over the U.S. support for the YPG and other issues.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1FE297
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:20 pm

More than 40 Kurdistan parties condemn Turkey’s operation in Afrin

More than 40 parties from across what is known as [color=#FFFFFF]Greater Kurdistan[/color] have come together to condemn Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish canton of Afrin, describing Ankara’s actions as “nearly genocide.”

Forty-two parties met in Erbil on Wednesday to condemn the attacks that have killed at least 33 civilians since Saturday. They include prominent parties such as the PUK and Gorran from the Kurdistan Region, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, the ruling PYD in Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava, as well some Turkmen and Christian parties.

“We believe that the attacks by Turkey’s regime have put Rojava in a very difficult situation and what is being done against Afrin nears genocide. It is a crime against all the components of Rojava, thus we cannot be silent with regards to these events,” read the joint statement published following the meeting.

The “brutal” attack on the civilians of Afrin is an extension of plots staged against the Kurdistan Region, the parties asserted.

“We condemn and protest these attacks and we are expressing our full support for the just struggle of the people of Rojava and the brave struggle of the YPG and YPJ,” the statement added, referring to Kurdish armed forces in Rojava.

The parties called on the international community, the United Nations, and the UN Security Council not to stand by and remain silent as the operation continues in Afrin.

An estimated 5,000 people have already been displaced from their homes in areas near the Afrin-Turkey border due to the fighting.

“The attacks on the people of Kurdistan are against the foundations of UN treaties and human rights charters and all democratic principles, so if the international community respects humans, it must protect humans of Kurdistan against attacks, dangers and threats,” the parties demanded.

One prominent party missing from the joint statement is the Kurdistan Region’s KDP. Masoud Barzani, the party’s president, said on Monday that he was “concerned” about the Afrin operation and asked all sides to seek peaceful solutions to their problems.

The KDP has strong relations with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/250120181
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:45 pm

US-Turkey relations hit new roadblock over Afrin

Relations between Ankara and Washington have hit a new roadblock over Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, while Russia has accused western nations of exploiting the Kurds.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had claimed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had pitched establishing a 30 kilometre-deep safe zone in Afrin, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

Asked about the proposal by media in Davos, Tillerson denied the report.

“No, we discussed a number of possible options but we didn’t propose anything,” he said, according to the Washington Post.

A Pentagon spokesperson clarified that they continue to hold talks with Turkey “about the possibility of a secure zone.”

“We’ve looked at that for a couple of years in various different iterations and no final decision on it yet. Our military commanders are still talking to I would say it’s a concept that’s out there… it’s simply an idea that’s floating around right now,” Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Thursday.

Cavusoglu on Thursday said “we have to re-establish trust.”

“I have previously clearly explained why we do not have trust: shipment of weapons to YPG, and the non-fulfilment of USA promises after Manbij, and lately Mr Trump said we will not give weapons to YPG, even in the last night’s phone call he said ‘We will no longer give [weapons to YPG],’” he said in a press conference.

US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and said he understood Turkey’s security concerns, but warned against taking steps that could risk military conflict between US and Turkish forces in Syria. He also urged the Turkish leader to limit the operation and civilian casualties.

‘Serious trust issues’

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday that Trump was tough with Erdogan, during their call.

The readout of their conversation from the White House did not mention arming the Kurdish forces, YPG, but did say that Trump expressed concerns about the violence and “destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey.” It did not elaborate on that rhetoric.

Trump did say he was open to closer cooperation “to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns,” the White House stated.

Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader urged Trump in the phone call to halt the US supply of weapons to the Syrian Kurdish militia.

Reacting to Trump’s warning, Bekir Bozdag, spokesperson for Erdogan, told Turkey’s A Haber TV, “We do not need advice, we need action.”

“Suspension of the Olive Branch operation is non-negotiable because there are serious trust issues between the United States and Turkey. The promises given to us are different from what is done on the ground,” Bozdag said.

The United States has armed the YPG under the umbrella of the SDF as part of the war against ISIS in northern Syria. Ankara considers the Kurdish forces extensions of the PKK, a named terror organization, and has routinely complained of the US’ alliance with the force.

Bozdag said that Turkey may not be able to differentiate between American and Kurdish forces in Syria.

“Those who are alongside the terrorists and fight with weapons with them and provide them with artillery will be targeted,” he threatened.

Playing the ‘Kurdish card’

Russia, which has repeatedly expressed support for Syrian Kurdish groups despite Turkey’s objections, believes that Turkey’s interests in the country may not be compatible with those of Russia.

"We discussed the problems with Turkey. Kurds should be part of the political process," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, commenting on Russia’s stance on the latest developments in Afrin, responding to a question from Rudaw correspondent Khalid Hussein.

"In the past, Russian representatives tried to make Kurds participate in the political stability," she said.

Kurdish leaders within the ruling parties in Rojava had said they were invited to Russia’s Sochi congress bringing together some 1,600 participants to discuss a political resolution to Syria’s conflict. The congress is co-hosted by Turkey and Iran.

Though Kurdish leaders later said they had not received a formal invitation, they said they would not attend after Russia tacitly gave Turkey a greenlight for the Afrin operation when it withdrew forces from Afrin.

Zakharova denied Russia's stance towards Afrin was contradictory, saying: "Our Western partners worked continuously in the Kurdish issue, but it was not for the advantage of the Kurds."

"The Western countries played the Kurdish card and exploited them when they were needed," she added.

Moscow is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the leadership of Afrin on Thursday called on to do his “duty” and protect Afrin’s borders from Turkey.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/250120183
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:51 pm

SDF calls on the Turkish army elements to surrender

SDF called upon the Turkish army elements and its allies to “surrender to the nearest point of our forces in the lines of contact you see in the battlefields”.

The General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces released a statement saying that those who do not want their hands to be stained with blood will be safe by their side.

The SDF statement is as follows;

"Soldiers, who are forced and driven into this war, that is not your war.

Syrians, who have been forced because of the circumstances in the displacement camps to be fuel for wars in which you have no strings attached!

Syrian Democratic Forces, which are made up of all Syrian components, have been the deadly arrow of terror and safe shield for the Syrian people as you have seen in all its struggle stations.

SDF has restored hope for the reunification of Syria after the war.

It is a guarantee of the safe and secure future of the Syrians, without any distinction between the peoples of Syria.

The General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces confirms to you that they are not hostile to anyone, but they defend themselves within Syria, and do not pose a threat to anyone, but on the contrary, our forces fight against the dangers which are faced by the people, the country and the neighbors. Our forces know that you have been forced to join this war.

Therefore, our forces invite you to surrender to the nearest point of our forces in the lines of contact you see in the battlefields so that the Turkish intelligent agents who stand behind you do not see you avoid spinning from behind, and do not be war fuel.

The Syrian Democratic Forces give you safety, so take advantage of this opportunity and surrender yourselves to our forces, before you reach a stage where you regret and regret is in vain.”

https://anfenglish.com/rojava/sdf-calls ... nder-24460
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:38 pm

Erdogan vows to fight Kurdish forces as far as Iraq

Turkey is prepared to take its fight against Kurdish forces in northern Syria as far east as Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Speaking in Ankara, Mr Erdogan reiterated that his forces will move against Kurdish-controlled Manbij, which risks confrontation with the US.

US troops are based in the city, which was taken from the Islamic State group (IS) by Kurdish-led forces in 2016.

Turkey launched its operation against the Kurdish militia last weekend.

Backed by pro-Turkish Syrian rebels, Turkish forces attacked the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with the declared aim of driving out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

The campaign has strained relations between Ankara and Washington, which has supported the YPG in its fight against IS.

'Clean up Manbij'

The Turkish president told a meeting of his AK party that he was prepared to expand so-called Operation Olive Branch "until there is no terrorist on our border leading to Iraq".

He said that after Afrin was cleared, "we will, as promised, clean up Manbij of terrorists"

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Manbij lies 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin in YPG-controlled territory. The mainly Arab city is separated from Afrin by an enclave captured from IS by pro-Turkish rebels in a previous Turkish-led operation in 2016.

The US has had soldiers in Manbij since March 2017, when it dissuaded Turkey from attempting to take the city and got the YPG to agree to withdraw east of the River Euphrates.

However Turkey has complained such a move never happened.

Thousands flee

Tensions between the US and Turkey - Nato allies - have soared since the start of the latest operation. Any Turkish offensive which expands into Kurdish-held territory further east will test the US, which has partnered with and equipped the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIS for the past two and a half years.

Clashes meanwhile continued around Afrin on the seventh day of the Turkish campaign, though fighting has been less intense because of bad weather.

The UN has said about 5,000 people have been displaced so far by the clashes.

Turkey says 14 of its soldiers and allied rebels have been killed, while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says 58 pro-Turkish rebels and 53 SDF/YPG fighters have been killed.

Turkey put the number of Kurdish and pro-Kurdish fighters killed at over 300.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42831296
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:02 pm

Kurds call on Syrian regime to intervene in Afrin battle
By Kareem Shaheen

Bashar al-Assad asked to protect borders with Turkey from attack

Kurdish militias fighting against Turkey in the Syrian enclave of Afrin have called on the government of Bashar al-Assad to intervene and protect the area’s borders.

The latest development, nearly a week into Turkey’s military offensive, could undermine Kurdish aspirations for self-governance and, if heeded, could set the stage for a direct military confrontation between Ankara and Damascus.

It could also create an open alliance between the US-backed Kurdish forces and a government that Washington had sought to unseat for years.

“While we insist that we will continue to defend Afrin against rabid external attacks and will confront the Turkish attempts at occupying Afrin, we invite the Syrian state to carry out its sovereign duties towards Afrin and to protect its borders with Turkey from attack,” the autonomous authority governing Afrin said in a statement on Thursday.

Ankara launched a military offensive into Afrin spearheaded by its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday in order to oust the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the Kurdish enclave, which borders Turkey.

The government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seethed over the support of the US-led coalition against Isis for the YPG, which led the ground campaign to drive Islamic State from northern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG and its affiliates as the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), a designated terrorist group that has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

The Afrin offensive was launched after the US announced it wanted to build a 30,000 strong border guard to patrol Syria’s frontiers that would include members of the YPG, a prospect that Turkey considers a major national security threat.

A Turkish foreign ministry official declined to comment on the YPG announcement – or on whether Turkey would fight Syrian government forces if they intervened in Afrin. The Syrian government did not comment, but has condemned Turkey’s intervention as a violation of sovereignty.

The Afrin statement is another twist to the Syrian crisis. The YPG and its political arm have long sought to establish an autonomous, self-governing canton in northern Syria, so its calls for a direct intervention by Assad’s government is a setback for those aspirations.

The YPG has only emerged in recent years - the Kurds indigenous to Western Kurdistan have, for many years, fought for an independent Western Kurdistan - ever since the Syrian government of the time broke it's promise to give Western Kurdistan autonomy

The YPG had often publicly positioned itself as anti-Assad, pointing to the rampant discrimination and abuses against the Syrian Kurds by the state, which had long denied them identity papers and other rights. But the militia and its political arms have been accused of cooperating closely with the regime.

The call is also an indication of the Kurdish militias’ anger that the US and Russia have been unable to deter Turkey.

The US, which has directly armed the YPG and provided the air cover for the ground operations in Raqqa, has done little apart from urging Turkey to exercise self-restraint in an effort to repair damaged relations with Ankara.

Moscow, which has occasionally cooperated with the Kurds and often insists that they should have a seat at the table in peace negotiations, allowed Ankara to use the airspace above Afrin to conduct the campaign.

It is unclear if the Syrian government will answer Kurdish calls for an intervention, and whether Turkey would halt its operation if that happened or engage in direct hostilities with the regime.

However, such a development could lead to a broader crisis that would endanger peace talks and draw in Assad’s allies,

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... rin-battle
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:26 pm

On Turkey’s Border with Syria, Many Are Eager for War

Two large Turkish flags, flattened by the rain, cover the blasted out windows of the 17th century mosque in Kilis, where a rocket fired by Kurdish militants in Syria slammed into the dome this week, killing two worshipers.

Even as the attack rattled shopkeepers gathered at a nearby tea shop, they voiced widespread support for Turkey’s new offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria.

“It makes Turkey strong,” said Mustafa Ozer, one of the group. “Now the border is much more robust. There is no threat anymore. This was mandatory and this should have been done earlier for the whole border.”

I came down to Kilis, which lies on the border with Syria, to learn more about the military operation and see what people directly affected by the war were saying.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has secured broad political backing for his offensive into Syria. Barely a week old, it has already left five Turkish soldiers dead, but on Friday, Mr. Erdogan threatened to push all the way across Syria to the border with Iraq.

Mr. Erdogan faces the prospect of an election, possibly even this year, and he is relying on an offensive against the Kurds to fire up Turkish nationalism and his own conservative base. He has used similar tactics before.

Turkey, no doubt, has real security concerns along its long frontier with Syria, where it is now squarely at odds with the United States over American support of a Kurdish force trying to secure a vast area of northern and eastern Syria. Turkey’s government has long faced an insurgency from within the restive Kurdish population that straddles the border, so any bolstering of Kurdish military strength is anathema to Turkey.

But just how far Mr. Erdogan will take his offensive remains to be seen. Will it be a limited incursion to make a point, or a full-blown operation to root out the Kurdish force that the Americans have built up and the Turks desperately oppose.

The shopkeepers near the mosque in Kilis had no doubts about who was responsible for the attack. “P.K.K.,” they said.

The P.K.K., or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is an outlawed Kurdish separatist movement that has been fighting the Turkish state for three decades.

The shopkeepers make no distinction between the Kurdish militant groups in Syria and the P.K.K., which operates in southeastern Turkey and Iraq. The Kurdish militants are all one group — and one threat — to them.

“They want to stir the city, to muddy the waters because we stand with our state,” said Ercan Emir, a barber whose shop stands by the mosque.

“They think, ‘If we hurt them, and damage their lives and their goods, they will turn against the state,’ ” he added.

Kilis and other towns along the border have been convulsed since the war broke out in Syria in 2011. The violence drove about 3.5 million Syrian refugees into Turkey, bringing fighters and smugglers in their midst, and rocket fire from across the border.

Kilis suffered most when the fighters of the Islamic State seized territory just across the border. The militants rained missiles on the town almost daily, killing 24 people in the area in early 2016.

But the P.K.K. has been a long-term source of strife, too. Mr. Erdogan spent much of his early years in power trying to negotiate a peace deal with the P.K.K., but since talks broke down in 2015, he has overseen a crackdown on Kurdish militants and political activists.

The group returned to violence and has been blamed for 12 suicide bombings in the last two and a half years.

Given the strife, there is widespread support across the country for the military operation against Kurdish militants in the Syrian enclave of Afrin.

The Turkish news media, which is almost overwhelmingly pro-government, has been energetic in its coverage in a longstanding tradition of militaristic nationalism.

Opposition, meanwhile, has been stifled. Since the Afrin operation began last Saturday a few small protests against the operation were swiftly broken up, and dozens of people who made comments opposing the operation on social media have been detained. Most of them were Kurdish activists.

Mr. Erdogan, who recently allied his Justice and Development Party with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, has appeared on television in military fatigues.

A campaign against Kurdish separatists has always found support among nationalists and other backers of a strong Turkish state, two of the biggest political blocs in Turkey.

Military operations into Syria have also proved to be popular. Opinion polls showed 70 percent support for an operation Turkey mounted in 2016 to clear the area of Islamic State, despite Turkish casualties.

Metin Gurcan, a security analyst and a columnist for El-Monitor, said he estimated that there was the same level of support for the Afrin operation.

“Now this operation is happening and it is one heart, one hand,” said Mr. Ozer, one of the shopkeepers.

Even the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, has voiced its support for the operation.

The Republican party had always advocated a negotiated settlement with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, rather than backing the Syrian opposition as Mr. Erdogan has done.

“We are a political party that is against the war,” said Mehmet Akif Perker, a local representative of the party. Yet, he added, “in a moment when nationalist pride is really strong, being against it will get a much stronger reaction from the people.”

“For years Turkey has a lot from the P.K.K.,” Mr. Perker said. “We are afraid that if we negotiate with them, they will pursue terror again.”

The party also considered that it was in Turkey’s economic interest to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish region to its south that could allow oil routes to bypass Turkey, he said.

The shopkeepers hoped the military operation would allow many of the Syrian refugees to return home. Many Syrian Arabs say they were forced out of their homes by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been fighting to dislodge the Islamic State from the region.

Kilis, a town with a population of fewer than 100,000, has swelled to 130,000 with the influx of refugees, and although the Syrians have been widely accepted, there is local resentment, especially over economic resources.

Turkey has spent billions on the refugees, noted Mr. Emir, the barber, whose shop was empty. “If the government had given that money to the Turkish population there would not be any poor people left,” he said.

Many shops around the mosque were shuttered Thursday. That morning the shopkeepers attended the funeral of one of the victims of the rocket attack, a 65-year-old tailor, Muzafer Aydemir. The other victim, Tarik Tabbak, was a 22-year-old Syrian refugee.

The mosque’s imam and muezzin were at the funeral, too, their heads swathed in bandages after being wounded in the attack.

Mr. Emir had been cutting the hair of a client on Wednesday evening when the rocket struck. He heard a strange sound of grating metal and ran from his glass-fronted shop, his customer bounding after him.

“My client told me I saved his life,” he said, laughing, “and I did not charge him.”

“We are all going to die one day” he added, “but because we might die at any moment, people treat each other more positively.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/worl ... r-war.html
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:26 pm

Mr. Erdogan faces the prospect of an election, possibly even this year, and he is relying on an offensive against the Kurds to fire up Turkish nationalism and his own conservative base. He has used similar tactics before.


Erdogan used similar tactics with his pretend coup X(

Turkey, no doubt, has real security concerns along its long frontier with Syria, where it is now squarely at odds with the United States over American support of a Kurdish force trying to secure a vast area of northern and eastern Syria. Turkey’s government has long faced an insurgency from within the restive Kurdish population that straddles the border, so any bolstering of Kurdish military strength is anathema to Turkey.


I politely suggest that Turkey leaves the Kurds alone - remove your invasion force from Kurdish homeland - stop the curfews and military actions taking place in Kurdish villages

STOP DESTROYING ANCIENT KURDISH VILLAGES AND LANDS
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:27 am

In Afrin, Turkey seeks ethnic cleansing, not terror eradication
By Michael Rubin

Turkish forces continue to bombard Afrin, a district in Syria currently controlled by Syrian Kurds. Turkey justifies its actions in the presence of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish militia which Turkey accuses of being a terrorist group. The State Department and Pentagon, meanwhile, reticent to see hemorrhaging U.S.-Turkish ties decline further, split hairs: They explain their support for Syrian Kurds is limited to areas where the YPG (or Syrian Defense Force, of which the YPG is the dominant portion) fights the Islamic State, but that the United States is under no obligation to help the same groups where they live elsewhere in Syria.

There are two problems with that sort of hairsplitting: First, while it may pass for sophistication in Washington, no one is fooled in the real world. They see the United States abandoning a partner in time of need. The cynicism this breeds throughout the region can be corrosive. Second, if the goal is to assuage Turkey, then it is also doomed to fail. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist militia, period. For Ankara, it is a black-and-white issue with no shades of gray. Turkey will object if the United States supports the YPG anywhere.

The problem with the Turkish position, however, is it ignores both how the United States arrived at its policy of support for the Syrian Kurds and also the reality of Syrian Kurdistan. Prior to my 2014 visit to Rojava, as the Syrian Kurds call the federal region they have established inside Syria, I met with U.S. diplomats who, at the time, had been instructed not to engage with YPG officials, both because they feared that group’s links to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, would antagonize Turkey and because the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, did not engage productively with U.S.-backed Syrian opposition groups.

Today, however, the United States and YPG have become partners. What happened?

Firstly, Turkey consistently undermined the fight against the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and also ISIS. Not only did it give free passage to foreign fighters, but it also supplied and equipped both groups. Just as in Pakistan, when criticism grew too great, it would symbolically detain token terrorists, but as soon as press or diplomatic attention would move on, the Turkish judiciary would quietly release them from prison. In contrast, the YPG proved itself the most effective fighting force against ISIS. In addition, the extreme transactionalism of Turkish diplomacy further pushed the United States to partner with the YPG, especially against the backdrop of constant Turkish threats to deny the Incirlik Air Base to U.S. personnel engaged in counter-ISIS actions. Lastly, reality became an important corrective to the U.S. approach to the Syrian opposition. Far from democratic, many of the Syrian groups whom the United States had championed were either radical or radicalized against the backdrop of uneven and unreliable U.S. support.

Turkey is correct that the YPG and the PKK are linked; it’s disingenuous to say otherwise. But, while Turkey obsesses about the PKK due to the group’s decadeslong insurgency inside Turkey, it’s not clear that Turkey is correct to say the YPG are terrorists, regardless of links. Put aside the fact that Turkey asked PKK fighters to go to Syria as a preliminary commitment to the Turkey-PKK peace talks. And also put aside the fact that Turkey’s definition of terrorism is subjective — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan embraces Hamas, for example, a group that unapologetically targets civilians, in contrast to the PKK which engages in a more traditional insurgency. The simple fact is that the Turkish government has been hard-pressed to point to a single terrorist attack launched on Turkey from Afrin. Indeed, Turkish officials have been hard-pressed to show any YPG terrorism.

Visitors to Syrian Kurdistan can see a group that is engaged in reconstruction and the responsibilities of governance — trash collection, schooling, refugee relief, electricity provision, and security — rather than terror training. In Turkey, the same visitors see indoctrination into Islamist radicalism and a state of emergency that allows Erdogan to wield power arbitrarily. That is not to suggest that the YPG is a democratic panacea for the region, as some of its supporters proclaim. Rather, it and the broader movement with which it is affiliated continue to struggle with democratic culture and personality cults. Then again, these problems also exist among Iraqi Kurds. Nor is the group’s evolution from PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s one-time Marxism complete. But, when it comes to democracy, tolerance, and governance, Syrian Kurdistan compares favorably to Turkey.

To suggest that the U.S. needs to sacrifice Kurds and embrace Turkey despite Turkey’s behavior is to repeat the mistakes the U.S. made for decades in its support for Pakistan, a country which like Erdogan’s Turkey has fanned the flames of Islamist radicalism.

Back to Afrin: Turkey has moved into Afrin not to fight terrorism — because Afrin isn’t a center of terrorism — but rather as part of its obsessive and unhinged campaign against Kurds. What Turkey seeks to do in Afrin is not eradicate terrorism but rather to engage in ethnic cleansing. Also motivating Erdogan is a desire to claim the mantle of military hero, something he lacks, and to silence domestic opposition which he can depict as treasonous if they question him in a time of war.

Neither appeasing Erdogan nor abandoning Kurds is a wise policy. Turkey was an ally in decades past; it no longer is. The YPG, in contrast, are. It’s time to stand up for Afrin.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/in-af ... le/2647260
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