News ID: 260163
Published: 0225 GMT October 13, 2019

Turkish president says no talks with Syrian Kurds

Turkish president says no talks with Syrian Kurds
Turkish-backed fighters watch as smoke billows from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad.

Turkey’ President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected offers for mediation with Syrian Kurdish militia as the Turkish military continues its offensive against them in northern Syria.

Speaking Sunday, Erdogan slammed Western allies for standing by the Syrian Kurdish militias and said Turkey won't negotiate with "terrorists," AP reported.

NATO member Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish militia as terrorists because of their links to an insurgency in southeast Turkey.

Turkey has vowed to carve out a "safe zone" inside Syria along the border.

Without specifying which countries made a mediation offer, Erdogan asked: "What kind of prime minister, what kind of head of state are those who offer to mediate between us and the terror group?"

Turkey, the US and the European Union all designate the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as a terror group.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said it has taken control of a strategic highway in its offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces.

The ministry tweeted Sunday that the M-4 highway, which runs across northeastern Syria, was under its control after Turkish troops reached 30 to 35 kilometers (18-22 miles) deep inside Syria.

A Kurdish official in northern Syria said 785 foreigners affiliated with Daesh managed to escape a camp where they were being held following Turkish shelling on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were a key US ally in the war against Daesh terrorists. The Turkish operation was launched Wednesday after President Donald Trump moved US forces aside.

Trump pulled back American forces from the area and saying he wanted to stop getting involved with “endless wars.” Trump’s decision drew swift bipartisan criticism that he was endangering regional stability. 

The United Nations said at least 130,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in northeastern Syria. Many more were likely on the move as a Turkish offensive in the area entered its fifth day.

A US official said a "small group" of American troops are withdrawing from a base in northern Syria as Turkish forces advance.

Sunday's pullout from the base at the town of Ein Issa was the second retreat for US troops since a fast-moving Turkish attack against the forces.


All foreign troops should leave Syria


Russia's president said all foreign troops should leave Syria unless the Syrian government asks them to stay.

Vladimir Putin said in an interview with three Arabic television stations that was released Sunday that "all foreign nations" should withdraw their troops unless they have been asked by the Syrian government to stay there.

He said that Russia, which has a significant military presence there as well as an air and a naval bases, would also leave if President Bashar Assad asks it to.

Putin, a staunch backer of the Syrian government, stopped short of condemning Turkey for sending its troops across the border into northeastern Syria earlier this week, but said that other nations should respect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Trump has also said US troops in northern Syria would pull back ahead of a Turkish offensive, now in its fifth day, to take the force out of harm's way.

Since Saturday, Turkey-backed forces have moved with Turkish airstrikes toward the town of Ain Eissa, an administrative town for the Kurdish-led forces and where a major US base is located.


"Efficient solutions"


Pope Francis has also appealed for a new effort at dialogue after US forces pulled back from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey's offensive against Syrian Kurds there.

Francis said civilians including Christian families "had been forced to abandon their homes as a result of military action."

Speaking Sunday at the end of a Mass, Francis urged the international community to work with "sincerity, honesty and transparency" toward finding "efficient solutions."


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