Turkey started preparations for further operations in northern Syria: Erdogan
02 April, 2018, 00:32 | Author: Sheila Harris
During the meeting with a delegation of Syrian and Arab fighters on Thursday, Macron acknowledged the "role of the SDF in the fight against Daesh", using another term for IS. The head of the Fifth Republic does intend to "immediately" send units of special forces of the French army to Manbij.
But Macron's office on Friday said Paris was not planning any new military operation on the ground in northern Syria outside the global coalition against the Islamic State militant group.
A United Kingdom defense ministry spokesman said Friday that an improvised explosive device in Syria killed the service member who was embedded with US forces on Thursday. Ankara plans for the operation to continue until Turkey's entire border with Syria is emptied of terrorists.
US officials have said in recent months that Washington planned to keep an open-ended presence in northern Syria, to support stability in the SDF-controlled region, prevent any Islamic State resurgence and counter Iranian influence.
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The YPG has been Washington's main ally against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Syria, in a partnership that has infuriated Turkey.
Turkey launched the operation on January 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin amid growing threats from the region.
Ankara considers the YPG fighters in the SDF to be an extension of Kurdish militants who have waged a decades-old insurgency in southeast Turkey.
Turkey has long complained about USA support for the SDF, among a number of irritants to ties with the leading North Atlantic Treaty Organisation power.
In his address in Ankara, the Turkish leader also said he held a telephone conversation with Macron last week during which the French leader made "bizarre" comments that forced Erdogan to raise his voice and respond with a "high frequency".
Kurdish official Asya Abdullah told reporters after the meeting with Macron that France was planning on sending "new French troops to Manbij" - an area east of Afrin where Turkey has threatened to expand its campaign.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town center of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the terrorist YPG/PKK since 2012.
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