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Turkey ‘Determined’ to Drive out Syrian Kurdish Forces

Europe

25 December 2018, 15:54

Turkey ‘Determined’

Turkey said Tuesday it is working with the United States to coordinate the withdrawal of American forces but remains “determined” to clear U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters from northeastern Syria, VOA news reports.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that “if Turkey says it will enter, it will.”

For weeks, Turkey has been threatening to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish fighters, who partnered with the U.S. to drive the Islamic State group out of much of northern and eastern Syria. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists because of their links to an insurgent group inside Turkey.

President Donald Trump announced the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.

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Cavusoglu said Turkey has the “strength to neutralize” IS on its own and criticized France, which has promised to stay in Syria despite the U.S. decision.

“If France is staying in Syria to protect the YPG, that will neither benefit France nor the YPG,” he said, referring to the main Kurdish militia in Syria.

Erdogan, speaking to reporters in Ankara, said Turkey was taking into account Trump’s announcement on Syria rather than French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision. The future of the international coalition against IS, which includes Turkey, the U.S. and France, remains unclear.

The Turkish president also announced that a delegation was heading to Moscow and that he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Turkey has been negotiating on behalf of the Syrian opposition with Russia and Iran, which support the Syrian government, as part of efforts to end the nearly 8-year civil war.

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