Er­do­gan says Kur­dish YPG still in Syr­ian bor­der zone

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) — Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Tues­day the Kur­dish YPG mili­tia had not with­drawn from some Syr­ian bor­der ar­eas and that U.S. forces were still car­ry­ing out joint pa­trols with the group, con­trary to an agree­ment be­tween them.

He was speak­ing as Turk­ish and Rus­sian sol­diers in ar­mored ve­hi­cles held their sec­ond joint ground pa­trol in north­ern Syria near the town of Kobani, un­der a deal to push the YPG some 30 km (19 miles) away from Turkey’s bor­der.

Nearly a month ago, Turkey and Syr­ian rebel al­lies launched a cross-bor­der in­cur­sion against Kur­dish YPG fighters, seiz­ing con­trol of 120 km (75 miles) of land along the fron­tier.

Turkey sub­se­quently struck two sep­a­rate deals with the United States and Rus­sia for the YPG to with­draw from the “safe zone” it plans to form in the re­gion, in re­turn for Ankara stop­ping its of­fen­sive against the group.

While Wash­ing­ton and Moscow have said the fighters had left the bor­der re­gion, Er­do­gan said this was not the case.

“Th­ese ar­eas are not cleared of ter­ror­ists. Ter­ror­ists have not been taken out of ei­ther Tel Ri­faat or Man­bij,” Er­do­gan said, re­fer­ring to two towns in the western bor­der area where he said YPG fighters re­mained.

They were also still present east of Ras al Ain, a town Turkey tar­geted in the in­cur­sion, Er­do­gan said in par­lia­ment.

He said Turkey would abide by the deals as long as Wash­ing­ton and Moscow kept their prom­ises.

He later told re­porters that U.S. forces were still hold­ing joint pa­trols with the YPG in­side the 30-km bor­der strip from which the mili­tia was meant to with­draw.

“How can we ex­plain Amer­ica hold­ing pa­trols with ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in this re­gion even though they made the de­ci­sion to with­draw? This is not in our agree­ment,” he said.

Ankara con­sid­ers the YPG a ter­ror­ist group be­cause of its ties to mil­i­tants who have waged an in­sur­gency in south­east Turkey since 1984. U.S. sup­port for the YPG, which was a main ally in the fight against Is­lamic State, has in­fu­ri­ated Turkey.

A sur­vey by poll­ster Metropoll on Tues­day showed Turks’ sup­port for Er­do­gan surged last month, when Ankara launched the in­cur­sion.

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