Syrian government must take over eastern Syria: Russia

by Garry Watts December 28, 2018, 0:25
Syrian government must take over eastern Syria: Russia

For weeks, Turkey has been threatening to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish fighters, who partnered with the U.S. to drive the Islamic State group out of much of northern and eastern Syria. Currently Turkey's military is reportedly mustering forces and tanks along deployment points at the Syrian border.

One of the top issues the Turkish delegation will discuss with their counterparts in Russian Federation will be on who will control the areas to be left by the U.S. The YPG, under the SDF umbrella, now has control of the entire east of Syria, one third of the war-torn country.

FILE - U.S. forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria, April 25, 2017.

Kurdish officials say that they are re-positioning their own forces in a plan to defend the area from invading Turkish and allied forces. So now Turkey is faced with the double task of fighting both ISIL and PYD/YPG which for Ankara is the Syrian extension of the terrorist organization PKK.

While Trump first claimed victory against ISIS in announcing the troop withdrawal, he said on Sunday that Erdogan has promised to "eradicate" the terrorist group after US troops leave.

Without US backing, it would definitely prove more hard for other western powers such as Italy, France and Britain to stay the course in supporting insurgent forces in Syria.

Turkey is intent on crossing into YPG-held territory east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria as soon as possible, Cavusoglu proclaimed Tuesday.

"We assume that any positive changes on the ground in Syria can only yield a long-term positive effect if they are reinforced by substantial progress on the political settlement track based on respect for Syria's unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty", the diplomat stressed.

Map showing territorial control in Syria at seven key moments in the war
YPG battle looms after US pullout announcement

"We, as the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, the only legitimate representatives of Syrian Turkmen, do not recognise this declaration", said the Assembly President Muhammad Wajih Juma, referring to a letter released by pro-YPG sources that rejected Turkey's cross-border operation.

"Especially if he was going to say he has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, because those troops can be staged to deal with ISIS", regular host Dana Perino agreed.

Syrian troops were positioned in areas to the west of Manbij on Tuesday, in anticipation of a potential offensive.

Zakharova also said Moscow believes that it should be the Syrian government.

Trump's abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria has handed the fight against Islamic State over to Turkey - and effectively given Ankara the green light to push into remaining Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria.

"It doesn't mean that we gave up on our determination and operations we will launch against the YPG in the future", he said. He noted that the United States had succeeded in its mission to defeat the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia) and that it was time to bring American troops home.

Russia closely coordinates its actions in Syria with Turkey, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

Turkish officials have previously said Ankara has no territorial ambitions in Syria.

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