Turkey rejects US claims of ceasefire with Syrian Kurds

#SyriaWar

Turkish ministers say country does not accept US announcement of 'loose' truce with YPG fighters in northern Syria

Turkey invaded the northern Syrian town of Jarabulus last week (Reuters)
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Thursday 1 September 2016 22:44 UTC
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Turkey on Wednesday rejected statements from the US of a "loose" ceasefire with a Kurdish militia in northern Syria, with government ministers saying they would continue to target "terrorist" organisations until their country was safe.

"We do not accept in any circumstances a 'compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements'," EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

His comment was a reference the US Central Command announcement on Tuesday that it had secured a "loose agreement" between Turkish and Kurdish YPG fighters to end clashes around the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which Turkey invaded last week.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, late Thursday, said the Syrian Kurd militia have not moved east of Euphrates despite claims to the contrary.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish PKK, which has fought a conflict against the Turkish state since 1984.

It fears advances by the YPG across the west bank of the Euphrates will allow it to form a contiguous area of control along the Syrian-Turkey border, and so aid the PKK.



"The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state. You cannot say it has reached a deal with terrorists," said Celik.

"The Americans promised that the YPG would draw to the east of the Euphrates. This morning they said most of the withdrawal was complete and only a small presence remains. They should keep their word.”

The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said "operations will continue until all threats to Turkish citizens have been eliminated".

"Regardless of statements made, the situation is clear: the PKK, PYD, YPG are all the same and hurt Turkey. We are determined in our stance. 

"The US has at multiple times given us assurances about their moving to the east of the Euphrates. We don't expect any change in that regard."

Turkey last week launched a two-pronged offensive against the Islamic State group and the YPG in northern Syria.

Washington expressed alarm over the clashes between YPG and Turkey and urged both sides to stop and concentrate on fighting IS.

Kurdish militias stick by ceasefire

On Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the YPG, said it was still abiding by the terms of the ceasefire.

The SDF's Jarabulus Military Council said: “With the mediation of the US-led international coalition, we declared a ceasefire with Turkish military to stop the ongoing bloodshed and ensure the security of civilians.

"This ceasefire is recognised [by] our forces near Sajur River and occupant Turkish army. The parties that became a part of the efforts for ceasefire wish the permanency of the truce. 

"We declare hereby that the ceasefire doesn't mean we accept the Turkish incursion into Jarabulus.”

Iran calls for quick end to Turkish invasion

Iran meanwhile urged Ankara to quickly end its week-old military intervention in Syria, saying it was an "unacceptable" violation of Syrian sovereignty.

Turkey's cross-border offensive was the first major ground intervention by a foreign power carried out without the approval of Damascus.

"In the fight against terrorism, any resort to methods that cast a shadow over the political sovereignty and legitimate power of the central government is unacceptable," said Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

"Although the fight against terrorism... is a principle for all peace-seeking governments, it cannot and must not justify military operations on another country's territory without coordination with its central government.

"The Turkish army must quickly stop its military operations. Any escalation will lead to the killing of more innocent civilians."