Turkey does ‘not accept’ ceasefire with Kurds

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TAKING THE OFFENSIVE This file photo taken around five kilometers west from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep shows Turkish Army tanks driving to the Syrian Turkish border town of Jarabulus. Turkey’s week-old cross-border operation in Syria could become a drawn-out affair that stokes tensions with Washington if Ankara continues to take the fight to US-backed Kurdish fighters, analysts say. AFP PHOTO

TAKING THE OFFENSIVE This file photo taken around five kilometers west from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep shows Turkish Army tanks driving to the Syrian Turkish border town of Jarabulus. Turkey’s week-old cross-border operation in Syria could become a drawn-out affair that stokes tensions with Washington if Ankara continues to take the fight to US-backed Kurdish fighters, analysts say. AFP PHOTO

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Wednesday said it did “not accept” US claims that it had agreed a truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.

Key Damascus supporter Tehran urged Ankara also on Wednesday to quickly wrap up its week-old military intervention in Syria, saying it was an “unacceptable” violation of Syrian sovereignty.

“We do not accept in any circumstances a ‘compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements,’” European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency.

“The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state,” he added.


Celik said Turkey could not be put on an equal footing with a “terrorist organization,” referring to the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

A US defense official told Agence-France Presse in Washington on Tuesday that the Turkish and Kurdish-led forces had reached a “loose agreement” to stop fighting each other.

Last week, Turkey launched a two-pronged offensive against Islamic State jihadists and the YPG in northern Syria.

After a weekend of Turkish clashes with YPG-allied forces, Washington expressed alarm and urged both sides to stop fighting each other and concentrate on combating the Islamic State.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state since 1984.

Tehran concerned
Turkey’s cross-border offensive, which it says is aimed against US-backed Kurdish militia as well as the Islamic State jihadist group, marks the first major ground intervention by a foreign power carried out without the blessing of Damascus.

“In the fight against terrorism, any resort to methods that cast a shadow over the political sovereignty and legitimate power of the central government is unacceptable,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.

“Although the fight against terrorism… is a principle for all peace-seeking governments, it cannot and must not justify military operations on another country’s territory without coordination with its central government,” he added.

Tehran has long had military advisers and volunteers on the ground in Syria in support of the regime, while Moscow has deployed special forces, artillery and warplanes.

Washington too has special forces on the ground advising its Kurdish militia allies in their fight against IS.

But Turkey’s deployment is far bigger. Its troops and tanks are accompanied by Syrian rebels that it has long supported in their fight against the regime and its Iranian and Russian allies.

After driving IS out of the border town of Jarabulus, Ankara quickly turned its sights on the US-backed Kurdish militia, who control territory to the south, pounding them with deadly shelling and air strikes to the dismay of Washington.

AFP

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