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25 January 2018, 01:48 | Katrina Lee
Turkey, US in discussion over “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria for sooner end
The US and Ankara may come face-to-face in Manbij, though the possibility is "small", Turkey's deputy prime minister said.
Turkey's angst about growing Kurdish strength near its border boiled over in recent days with the Turks launching a military operation against Afrin, a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria.
It has also said 28 civilians have been killed on the Syrian side but this is vehemently rejected by Turkey which says it is only targeting militants.
The U.S. says Russian Federation, a key ally of the government, shares blame for the use of chemical weapons in Syria because it vetoed the renewal of an expert body that determined responsibility for such attacks.
He said Tuesday that Russian Federation is in violation of a 2013 agreement it made with the US on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and is helping the Syrian government to breach the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans their use. He confirmed YPG and SDF fighters had been killed, but declined to say how many.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is now traveling in Asia, said the fighting "disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria" and "distracts from the global efforts to ensure the defeat of ISIS", using another acronym for IS.
Turkey, which carried out a seven-month military operation in northern Syria two years ago to push back Daesh and YPG fighters, will continue to act where it thinks necessary, he said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on January 23 issued a strong rebuke of Turkey's offensive against a U.S. -allied Kurdish militia in northern Syria, saying it is distracting from the fight against Islamic State militants. "It's the ultimate in heavy diplomatic lifting", said Frederic Hof, who oversaw Syria policy in the Obama administration's first term and is now at the Atlantic Council.
The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, said UNIMI would determine responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria "on the basis of credible, verified and corroborated evidence, collected in the course of on-site visits".
Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday renewed a threat to extend the offensive east to the city of Manbij, which is under the control of USA -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The initiative was announced Tuesday in Paris, where U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and diplomats from the other signatory countries. That's what the unraveling USA relationship with "NATO partner" Turkey has come to: military brinkmanship...
Asked if Washington had a moral obligation to the Kurds, senior USA officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity said Trump's "America first" doctrine dictated that the US always prioritize its own interests.
After Turkey assaulted a relatively peaceful Kurdish enclave of northern Syria, regional leaders fear the world will abandon them even though they provided the ground troops who beat the Islamic State group.
Turkey's state-run agency says 11 people have been arrested over allegedly engaging in "terror propaganda" through social media postings about Turkey's military offensive into a Syrian Kurdish enclave.
The French government is freezing assets of companies that help furnish material to a Syrian lab accused of producing chemical weapons.
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