World News

Turkey prepares to take over anti-IS fight in Syria from US

Turkey prepares to take over anti-IS fight in Syria from US

The Turkish government will send a high-level team to Russian Federation on December 29 to discuss and coordinate the aftereffects of the United States' withdrawal from Syria, running in parallel with Ankara-Washington contacts to the same end, a senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official has said.

The troop mobilization comes as the country's Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that Ankara was seeking to launch a military operation targeting the Kurdish-led militias in Syria as soon as possible.

A spokesman for Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters said that his fighters would not accept the return of government forces to areas in eastern Syria, including Manbij town, after U.S. forces withdraw. The two Syrian cities are held by Kurdish YPG militants.

The U.S. has long partnered with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the battle against IS, despite that Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The Y-P-G was backed by U.S. forces.

But a surprise announcement by US President Donald Trump a week ago that he will pull American troops out of the country has left the Kurds exposed to attack.

The head of the MMC, Mohammed Abu Adel, told the Kurdish-run Kurdistan24 news website that Syrian troops have been in Arima since previous year but they have recently sent reinforcements as Russian soldiers arrived in the town.

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But Erdogan has previously said Ankara will intervene in the coming months against IS and the YPG, telling Trump on Sunday that Turkey would "eradicate" the last elements.

Trump has said the withdrawal from Syria will be slow and coordinated with Turkey, without providing a timetable.

The development comes a day after Turkish-backed Syrian fighters dispatched fighters and armoured vehicles to the front line along Manbij and days after Washington took an unexpected decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned, however, that it was not an "open-ended waiting period." .

A Kurdish-led force captured much of northern and eastern Syria from the Islamic State (IS) group with the help of a USA -led coalition.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official said they were reaching out for help to protect the Kurdish-administered areas against a possible Turkish offensive following the U.S. withdrawal, adding that they were in talks with Russian Federation, the Syrian government and European countries.

France confirmed it will remain in the alliance despite the United States withdrawal.

On Monday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reinforced the area around Manbij. Under the June deal, Kurdish forces would leave Manbij, in the western Euphrates valley, but delays have infuriated Turkey. Current battles are now taking place on the eastern flanks of Hajin in areas near the Iraqi border.


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