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1ST LEAD Erdogan threatens to 'rout' Kurdish fighters in Syria's north By Ergin Hava, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Istanbul (dpa) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will "rout" US-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in "less than a week," calling on them to surrender and criticizing Washington for supporting the groups which Ankara designates as terrorists.

"God willing, they will see how we rout the looters whom they gathered, supposing that they formed an army, in less than a week," Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the eastern province of Elazig on Saturday.

Erdogan was referring to two towns, Afrin and Manbij, both controlled by the US-backed main Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and affiliates such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will turn that upside down too. In Manbij, we will take matters into our own hands if the promises are not kept," Erdogan said.

Erdogan also voiced disappointment over US weapons deliveries to the YPG.

Ankara is upset Washington is allied with the YPG and SDF, both of which it sees as terrorists, in the ground war against Islamic State in Syria. State-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday that a US delegation visited areas "occupied by the terrorist group" in northern Syria.

The US officials were briefed about "demands for the set-up of a federal system in Syria," Anadolu reported.

"There is no issue left in Syria that we can resolve with those who told us nothing but lies and manipulation until today," Erdogan added.

Turkey controls about 2,000 square kilometres in northern Syria following a 2016 cross-border operation, the Euphrates Shield. The Turkish-controlled area is neighboured by Afrin to the west and Manbij to the east.

Turkey also has troops stationed in Idlib, to the south of Afrin, as part of a deal reached last year with Russia and Iran to turn the province into a so-called de-escalation zone.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are part of the Astana process, a political initiative aimed at reducing violence in Syria. Moscow and Tehran back the Syrian government while Ankara has supported the rebels.

The Turkish army opened fire on a YPG-affiliate post in Afrin from the border city of Hatay, the private Dogan news agency reported on Saturday, adding that sporadic artillery fire could be heard in the area.


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(19.01.2018 22:09)

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