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Breaking point? Turkey demands 'concrete steps' from USA while Washington wavers

15 February 2018, 06:49 | Taylor George

Breaking point? Turkey demands 'concrete steps' from USA while Washington wavers

Breaking point? Turkey demands 'concrete steps' from USA while Washington wavers

In January 2018, Washington repeated this promise, when US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin that the US would no longer provide weapons to fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Turkey should accept the territorial gains of Syrian Kurdish forces at its southern border, end its military operation against them and instead resolve problems through dialogue, the new leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party said.

But Cavusoglu also questioned the U.S commitment to fight the Islamic State, claiming it is not attacking Islamic State members in Syria as an excuse to continue working with the YPG terrorist group.

"We will destroy every terrorist we have seen, starting with the ones standing by their side".

"In fact, the $250 million is requested to provide border security support to the governments of Jordan and Lebanon, not for partner forces in Syria".

"We have open and clear expectations which we have repeatedly shared", Cavusoglu said.

Erdogan took aim at that, saying: "It is obvious that those, who say they will "give a sharp response" if they were hit, have not been hit by the Ottoman slap".

The recent flare-ups have come suddenly, but the conditions for them were being set soon after protests against the Assad regime in Syria erupted into a full-blown civil war some seven years ago.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due in Ankara later on Thursday to discuss growing tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. President Erdogan has repeatedly said that his military would proceed farther east to the Manbij city which is controlled by both the USA troops and the Kurdish fighters. He said the large number of US -backed forces and rising Islamic State group casualties are proof such claims aren't true. The operation is still underway.

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"We are continually talking to Turkey...we have stressed the Turks to limit the operation, it is a distraction and have asked them to restrain themselves and avoid civilian casualties at all costs", said Dana White, chief spokesperson for the Pentagon.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded the alarm at a coalition gathering in Kuwait City.

"We will either fix these relations or they will break completely", he said.

And Washington has expressed concern that several of its citizens - as well as at least two Turkish employees of USA missions - have been caught up in the post-coup crackdown. "We will defend ourselves", Funk added.

About 40,000 people have been killed in Turkey since the PKK launched its fight against the Turkish state in the 1980s, seeking more autonomy for the Kurds. "They want to kick out the Kurds", she says.

At the same time, Washington also made it clear that USA troops would not leave Manbij - another northern Syrian town controlled by the Kurdish militias - even though Ankara said it could extend its operation into this area.

While Erdogan said that Turkey wouldn't deliberately target US forces, he warned USA soldiers to keep their distance from the YPG on the battlefield.

Ankara argues the YPG are an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and has called on Washington to cease its backing of the Kurdish forces which Turkey calls a "terrorist" group.



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