Published: Fri, January 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Turkey discusses operation in Syria's Afrin with Russia, US - deputy PM

Turkey discusses operation in Syria's Afrin with Russia, US - deputy PM

Most crucially, it has allowed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rule through decrees, often bypassing parliament which he has long accused of slowing down his government's ability to perform.

The latest development follows an announcement Sunday by Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the USA -led coalition, officially known as Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), that the coalition was creating a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria. The force is expected to be deployed along the borders of the SDF-held areas and Iraq and Turkey.

Turkish leaders were not satisfied.

Euphrates Shield officially ended in late March 2017 with the Turks occupying most of this strategically important territory that the Kurds covet, following Turkey's defeat of IS in the lengthy battle for the city of al-Bab, with their army and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) militia. It is the USA -led coalition's chief ally in the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria.

"We don't want them to engage in violence but we want them to keep focused on ISIS", she said. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the nascent border force is "not helping calm the situation".

Tensions over Syria's Kurds have tested relations between the US and Turkey for the past three years nearly to breaking point.

Faysal Mekdad says Syria considers any air attack or ground operations by Turkey on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin to be a "aggressive act" and a violation of worldwide law. "The preparations have been completed, the operation could start at any moment", Erdogan said this week, as the Turkish army sent dozens of military vehicles and hundreds of additional personnel to the border area.

"Ankara and Washington seem to be competing to have the most unrealistic long-term Syria strategy: Attack the YPG and hope it goes away vs. support the YPG and hope the regime goes away", tweeted Nicholas Danforth, a national security analyst with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a US -based research group.

Tensions with Washington have repeatedly erupted over its support of the SDF, prompting US troops to deploy in northeast Syria to prevent clashes between the Kurdish forces and Turkey-backed fighters.

Any Turkish military operation into the Syrian borders will be considered as an attempt to attack and violate territorial integrity, Meqdad was quoted as saying.

A YPG spokesman in Afrin, Rojhat Roj, said new Turkish reinforcements could be seen arriving at the border overnight.

In 2016, Turkey began a military campaign called Euphrates Shield Operation, which targeted ISIL and the YPG. Russian Federation deployed military observers to Afrin a year ago in an effort to prevent Turkish-Kurdish clashes.

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