7 terrorists captured during Turkey's Afrin operation

Turkey Parliament Speaker calls offensive against Syria Kurds 'jihad'

The Turkish and USA presidents discussed Turkey's ongoing military offensive in Syria's Afrin in a phone conversation Wednesday, said the Turkish presidency in a statement.

A push towards Manbij, in a separate Kurdish-held enclave some 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, could threaten USA plans to stabilise a swath of northeast Syria.

And Washington is betraying and abandoning its Kurdish allies.

Speaking in Ankara before leaders of Turkish provinces, Erdoğan vowed to extend the operation to the town of Manbij east of Aleppo, a move that could lead to clashes between Turkish and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces. While US forces are not officially stationed in Afrin, they are presently 97km away in Manbij. If Russia and Turkey are to cement their relationship, they must work harder to harmonise their positions, particularly on the role of the PYD and the future of Assad. For the United States, the YPG is a key ally against both Islamic State jihadists and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Speaking with Erdogan by telephone, Trump became the latest US official to try to rein in the offensive and to pointedly flag the risk of the two allies' forces coming into conflict. "We can not stress enough the need for all parties involved to protect civilians, to protect civilian infrastructure, and to respect worldwide law", he added.

"We expect the European Union to keep its promises in the fastest way possible", Fatma Sahin, Gaziantep's mayor and a prominent member of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, told Reuters on a visit to European Union headquarters in Brussels.

The operation in the Afrin region is Turkey's second major military intervention in Syria during an unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.

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The air and ground operation has opened a new front in Syria's multi-sided civil war and could threaten USA plans to stabilize and rebuild a large area of northeast Syria - beyond President Bashar Al-Assad's control - where Washington helped a force dominated by the YPG to drive out Daesh militants. But in the ensuing decades, and particularly after the 9/11 attacks, Turkey became an important American ally, held up by the United States as a model combination of Islam and democracy.

Paramedics carry a wounded person from the rubble of a mosque in Kilis, Turkey, near the border with Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Dozens of combatants have been killed since Turkey launched the offensive, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war.

Turkey said three of its soldiers had been killed.

A group of foreign fighters, including three Britons, is heading to the Syrian city of Afrin to join the Kurdish YPG militia in their fight against Turkey. Therefore, political elites in Moscow and Washington need to curtail the anti-Kurdish ambitions of Turkey and the geopolitical containment policies of this nation aimed at the central government of Syria.

Fighting continues between Kurdish factions and Turkish forces supported by the Free Army factions on the north-west axis of Afrin and the mountain of Mount Semaan in the south.


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