Fears over US-Turkey military confrontation in Syria

306 terrorists neutralized so far in Turkey's Afrin

Turkey has launched a military operation in the northern Syria town of Afrin, where there is a large presence of Syrian Kurds, including members of the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia working with the US -led coalition to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and urged him to limit his forces' assault against a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria, the White House said, according to AFP. Despite the Turkish claims, Islamic State fighters are not known to be in the areas Turkey is attacking. It did not elaborate on that rhetoric.

President Trump raised concerns about Turkey's military offensive in Syria during a Wednesday call with the country's leader.

"The Western community noticed Russia's game plan in Syria - with it giving a green light to launch the Afrin offensive - because Moscow's main goal is to shift Turkey away from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to sow discord between Turkey and the West, disintegrate the alliance, and establish a more asymmetrical relationship pattern".

US officials said they have made it clear to Turkey that an attack on Manbij is unacceptable...

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said that if YPG fighters battling Daesh in northern Syria move to Afrin, and if the military equipment provided by the United States is used for any goal other than fighting Daesh, the U.S. will withdraw its support for the group. Washington has about 2,000 ground troops in Syria.

This comes as USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces reject a claim by Turkey that ISIS is present in the Afrin region.

A week ago the US declared it was building a 30,000-strong "border security force" in the territory controlled by the Syrian Kurds along the Turkish border.

Ankara considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces. "Turkey did not close the border, but we suspended for security reasons our movements because of the military operation". Analysts have suggested that Russian Federation made a deal with Turkey to OK the current assault and withdraw troops, in response to Ankara's participation in the talks. "Unlike some other regions in northern Syria, we do not have USA military bases or even military observers", she said.

Two US defense officials told CNN last week that the US military continues to carry out overt patrols in the Manbij area, with the primary mission of deterring conflict.

Kurdish forces captured Manbij, which is west of the Euphrates River, from IS in 2016 with the help of the US -led coalition. Turkey has long demanded that the Kurdish fighters withdraw to the eastern bank of the river, and U.S. forces have patrolled the area to reduce tensions.

Shervan Derwish, a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, said his forces are on "full alert" in case Turkey moves on the city. "Their patrols are continuing and also air patrols". While US forces are not officially stationed in Afrin, they are presently 97km away in Manbij.

The advancing Turkish troops are facing stiff resistance in Afrin.

Redur Xelil, a senior SDF official, of which the People's Protection Unit (YPG) is a leading component, told Reuters Turkey was "trying to mislead global public opinion".

Turkish shelling and airstrikes in Afrin have killed 28 civilians, while two civilians were killed as a result of YPG shelling near Azaz, a town held by Turkish-backed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, the monitoring group said.

United States military personnel are deployed in Manbij, situated about 100 km east of Afrin. "The United States wants to have its cake and to eat it too".

Turkey's prime minister estimates there are 8,000 to 10,000 YPG fighters in Afrin. He said Turkish troops have suffered seven or eight losses.

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