Trump Urges Ankara to 'Curtail' Afrin Operation

Caspian Region Backs Turkey's Afrin Operation In Syria

One military official said USA troops in the Manbij area had come under fire from Turkish-backed rebels "within the last week", returning fire in self-defense. "Turkey did not close the border, but we suspended for security reasons our movements because of the military operation". Still, he noted that US troops will defend themselves if necessary.

"I would tell you that wherever United States troops are, they're going to be able to defend themselves, and we coordinate very closely with the Turks on that", McKenzie said. At this point, she said, she's not aware of any changes in the location of USA troops there.

USA officials speaking in Ankara on Wednesday said the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Afrin are not part of the group that received help from the US -led coalition in driving out IS from most of northeastern Syria.

Germany on Thursday voiced "great concern" about Turkey's cross-border offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria and called for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to discuss the operation.

The Afrin operation has also triggered some concern in Germany, another North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, where the caretaker government said it would put on hold any decision on upgrading Turkey's German-made tanks.

Tensions between them are an embarrassment for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but Mr Stoltenberg has refrained from criticising either country and suggests it is a bilateral issue because the alliance has no troops on the ground in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said that Turkey's attack against Afrin is "inseparable from policy, that was pursued by the Turkish regime since the first day of the Syrian crisis and which is based for the most part on supporting terrorism and terrorist groups under different names".

Later, he said Trump should have called him before announcing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, claiming, "I believe this mistake would not have been made if Mr. Trump had made his consultation with us".

Turkey has long demanded that the Kurdish fighters withdraw to the eastern bank of the river, and USA forces have patrolled the area to reduce tensions.

Turkish-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army stand in the Tal Malid area, north of Aleppo, as they fire towards Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in the village of Um al-Hosh, in the area of Afrin, on January 20. "The United States wants to have its cake and to eat it too".

"Any reasonable person could suspect there's pressure rising for that, and we'll watch that closely and that is a unsafe thing, and we need to keep our focus on why we're there, which is the defeat of ISIS", he said.

In Davos, Tillerson was asked if he had proposed a safe zone to Cavusoglu. -Turkish goals in Syria and expressed concern about "destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey".

A limited number of families were reportedly able to move out of Afrin district towards some rural areas near Aleppo but were prevented from proceeding at Syrian government checkpoints, the world body said, citing local reports. Heavy clouds have hindered air support, limiting advances, and Kurdish militia have retaken some territory.

Turkey accuses the YPG (People's Protection Units) of having links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group within its own borders. Erdogan said the operation would allow Syrian refugees to return home.

Bad weather, including heavy rain, has hampered Turkey's offensive.

In a speech in Ankara on Thursday, Yıldırım said: "It is astounding and unacceptable. that a country which is supposed to protect Nato's borders is giving open support to armed entities that target our borders".

Yildirim said as many as 300 militants have been "neutralized" — killed, injured or taken captive — so far in the Afrin offensive.

Following similar calls from other world leaders, US President Donald Trump spoke by phone to his Turkish counterpart on Wednesday, and called on the Ankara government to "limit its military action and avoid civilian casualties", according to a White House statement.

President Tayyip Erdogan warned Wednesday that Turkey would expand its military offensive to the Syrian town of Manbij, where the Pentagon maintains Special Operations troops who are partnered with Kurdish forces that dominate the city. It describes both groups as terrorist organisations.

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