Trump warns Erdogan to limit assault on Kurds

Caspian Region Backs Turkey's Afrin Operation In Syria

Caspian Region Backs Turkey's Afrin Operation In Syria

The US and Turkey have released opposing accounts of a phone call between Presidents Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, highlighting deepening tensions between the two countries amid a Turkish military campaign in Syria. The US also said it wanted closer bilateral cooperation and cares about Turkey's legitimate security concerns.

Since Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Saturday to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria, the terror group has carried out cross-border attacks on Turkey.

Turkey said the United States had proposed a 30 km (19 mile) "safe zone" along the border with Syria.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council's decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The YPG has denied any direct military or political links with the PKK, while the United States has rejected Turkey's portrayal of the group.

Yucel himself said in a written interview with German news agency DPA from his Turkish jail cell this month that he was "not available for any dirty deals" to win his freedom.

Turkish operations continued Wednesday against Kurdish militants in Afrin, a Kurdish-held enclave in north-western Syria.

Erdogan said Operation Olive Branch is not aimed at Kurds, but instead targets terrorists in the region. In between the two cities lies a Turkish-controlled zone.

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On Wednesday, rockets, apparently fired from Syria, struck the Turkish border town of Kilis, wounding at least eight people who were gathered in a mosque, according to press reports. First, the US has been completely sidelined in the operation. "We would appreciate it and we would urge them to limit the incursion as much as possible". The Trump administration, meanwhile, has become increasingly frustrated by Turkey's apparently retaliatory detentions of American citizens, as well as employees of American consulates in the country.

The White House said that Trump had on Wednesday told Erdogan "to de-escalate" the situation in northern Syria. It's the most powerful country in the Middle East, it's a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally (with the second-biggest army in the alliance), and it controls the Straits that give the Russian navy access to the Mediterranean. But it was unclear whether it would sway Turkish decisions.

"President Erdogan is trying to make a statement that it is Erdogan and not Trump who will determine the future course of USA policy in Syria", he said.

"Trump did not share any "concerns [about] escalating violence" with regard to the ongoing military operation in Afrin".

Although the US does not have any forces in Afrin province, it deployed troops to Manbij March previous year, following Kurdish forces taking control of the town in 2016.

Less than a week into Turkey's military operation in Afrin, Washington is exerting pressure on Ankara to de-escalate its activities, amidst heightened United States concerns that the fighting is hurting the broader battle against ISIL in Syria.

Others say the operation aims to oust a militia of between 8,000 to 10,000 fighters affiliated with the People's Protection Units or YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group that has controlled territory in northern Syria and a proven top US ally in fighting the Islamic State group.

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