SDF statement says Turkey falsely claimed Islamic State is in Afrin

Jan 26, 2018, 01:45
SDF statement says Turkey falsely claimed Islamic State is in Afrin

On Wednesday, Turkey said that 287 Kurdish or Islamic State fighters had been killed, captured or had surrendered, according to a military statement carried by the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.

The United States and Russian Federation both have military forces in Syria backing opposing sides and have called for Turkish restraint in its "Operation Olive Branch", meant to crush the YPG in the Afrin region.

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

USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday said that Turkish attacks on Afrin could not have killed so-called Islamic State militants, Reuters reported.

While acknowledging Turkey's "legitimate security concerns", Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters that the Turkish operation in Afrin was undermining the fight against ISIS, calling it "a distraction".

A person familiar with the matter said, "The allied military headquarters in Baghdad that is leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria".

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation statement said Turkey has suffered from terrorism and has the right to self-defense but urged Ankara to do so in a "proportionate and measured way", the Associated Press reported.

A coalition spokesman declined to address Bozdag's comments.

Representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition are meeting in Vienna on Thursday for a fresh round of United Nations -backed negotiations over ending the Syrian conflict, Agence France-Presse reported.

'We don't want to be forgotten.

A senior US official said that as of Tuesday the Turks had not been ready to engage in detail on such a proposal.

MrErdogan had earlier flagged that the military operation may at least partly aim to engineer demographic shifts in Afrin, saying: "55 per cent of Afrin is Arab, 35 per cent are the Kurds who were later relocated, and about 7 per cent are Turkmen". They also denied the Turkish government's claims that the USA had delivered thousands of trucks of weapons to Syrian Kurdish forces, saying most of the supplies instead went to US forces, and that the resources also included ammunition, food and humanitarian supplies.

Donald Trump in his turn has called on Erdogan to de-escalate the situation in Afrin and avoid any actions that could spark conflict between United States and Turkish military forces, the White House said in a readout after the phone call.

However Turkey has disputed that characterisation of the conversation.

Turkey's incursion into Afrin, in northwestern Syria, marks a significant move in its campaign against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

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

In Afrin, the civilian death toll rose to 28 since the start of the assault, the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that member state Turkey had a right to act in self-defence as Ankara presses a military operation against Kurdish-held positions in northern Syria.

Ankara fears that Kurdish fighters in Syria with ties to the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey will form a terror threat along the border.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated Ankara's demand that Washington stop supporting the YPG. Turkey views the YPG as part of the PKK and a terrorist organization.

"(But) in order for us to discuss the security zone or any other issue with the USA, we have to re-establish trust", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.