Turk­ish, U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials agree on plan for Syr­ian town

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

ANKARA/GENEVA: Turkey’s mil­i­tary said Thurs­day that Turk­ish and U.S. of­fi­cials meet­ing in Ger­many have reached an agree­ment on the Syr­ian town of Man­bij, which has been a source of ten­sion be­tween the NATO al­lies.

A U.S.-backed and Kur­dish-led force cap­tured Man­bij from Daesh (ISIS) in 2016.

A mil­i­tary state­ment said that Turk­ish and U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials met at the U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand head­quar­ters in Stuttgart Tues­day and Wed­nes­day, and reached an agree­ment on a “Man­bij Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan.”

It said the plan would be dis­cussed by se­nior of­fi­cials from the two coun­tries, but pro­vided no de­tails.

Turkey and the U.S. have of­fered dif­fer­ing de­scrip­tions of their roadmap for Man­bij, but the Kur­dish forces are ex­pected to re­treat to the east of the Euphrates River, meet­ing a long-stand­ing Turk­ish de­mand.

Turkey has re­peat­edly called on the U.S. to stop backing the Syr­ian Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units, or YPG, which it sees as an ex­ten­sion of the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party, or PKK. The PKK has waged an in­sur­gency in Turkey for more than three decades.

The U.S.-backed Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces, which are dom­i­nated by the YPG, played a key role in driv­ing Daesh from much of north­east­ern Syria. Their ad­vance prompted Turkey to in­ter­vene in 2016, send­ing troops and al­lied Syr­ian fight­ers into an area along the border.

An in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights group said Turkey-backed Syr­ian op­po­si­tion fight­ers have seized, looted and de­stroyed the prop­erty of Kur­dish civil­ians in the north­ern Syr­ian re­gion of Afrin, which was re­taken from Kur­dish fight­ers by force ear­lier this year.

Hu­man Rights Watch said the Syr­ian forces have in­stalled fight­ers and their fam­i­lies in res­i­dents’ homes and de­stroyed and looted civil­ian prop­er­ties with­out com­pen­sat­ing the own­ers.

Priyanka Mo­ta­parthy, act­ing emer­gen­cies di­rec­tor at Hu­man Rights Watch, was quoted in the re­port as say­ing that “de­stroy­ing or mov­ing into the prop­erty of peo­ple who have had to flee the fight­ing is not what the Free Syr­ian Army fight­ers should be do­ing when they move into an area.”

HRW said Turkey and the Syr­ian fight­ers in Afrin should com­pen­sate dis­placed res­i­dents whose prop­erty they have seized, de­stroyed, or looted, and should not per­ma­nently de­prive res­i­dents of their prop­erty. Turkey launched an air and ground offensive in Afrin on Jan. 20, and cap­tured most of it two months later.

In Geneva, mean­while, U.N. Spe­cial En­voy for Syria Staffan de Mis­tura told re­porters a meet­ing will be held later this month among coun­tries in­clud­ing the U.S., France, Saudi Ara­bia, Ger­many and Bri­tain for the form­ing of a con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee. He said the meet­ing will most likely be held on June 25.

The state­ment came a day af­ter de Mis­tura said he will host se­nior of­fi­cials from Iran, Rus­sia and Turkey in Geneva next week to dis­cuss

ef­forts to cre­ate the con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee, which could help one day bring peace to the war-dev­as­tated coun­try. De Mis­tura has re­cently fo­cused his at­ten­tion on the diplo­matic track with the three pow­ers to try to craft a way out of Syria’s seven-year war.

The ap­proach marks a de­par­ture from his months of re­peat­edly host­ing del­e­ga­tions from the govern­ment and op­po­si­tion groups for talks in Geneva that largely failed.

Mean­while, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion freed up a frac­tion of some $200 mil­lion in frozen funds for Syria sta­bi­liza­tion pro­grams, a move that leaves nearly $195 mil­lion in limbo.

The State De­part­ment said U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had au­tho­rized it and the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional

De­vel­op­ment to spend $6.6 mil­lion to sup­port the White Hel­mets, an op­po­si­tion-aligned Syr­ian civil de­fense or­ga­ni­za­tion, and the In­ter­na­tional, Im­par­tial and In­de­pen­dent Mech­a­nism, a U.N. agency that is in­ves­ti­gat­ing war crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the con­flict.

Her state­ment made no men­tion of the re­main­ing $193.4 mil­lion that re­mains frozen, and of­fi­cials could not say whether a de­ci­sion had been made to elim­i­nate it all to­gether.

The $200 mil­lion pledge was made by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son in Fe­bru­ary.

Tiller­son, who had ad­vo­cated for main­tain­ing a ro­bust U.S. pres­ence in Syria, was fired shortly af­ter he made the pledge at a donors’ con­fer­ence in Kuwait. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.