Turkish forces would sweep Kurdish fighters from Syrian border

A member of Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army police forces secures the road as they escort a convoy near Azaz, Syria January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Vastavam web: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkish forces would sweep Kurdish fighters from the Syrian border and could push all the way east to the frontier with Iraq a move which risks a possible confrontation with U.S. forces allied to the Kurds.Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group but the militia has played a prominent role in U.S.-led efforts to combat the hardline Islamic State in Syria.

Since the start of the incursion, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by Ankara, Erdogan has said Turkish forces would push east towards the town of Manbij, potentially putting them in confrontation with U.S. troops deployed there.A senior official in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias of which the YPG is the strongest, said any wider Turkish assault would face “the appropriate response”.

Redur Xelil also said in an interview that he was sure the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, which has backed the SDF in its battle against the jihadists, was trying to put pressure on Turkey to limit its offensive.The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, officially as part of the international coalition against Islamic State.

U.S. forces were deployed in and around Manbij to deter Turkish and U.S.-backed rebels from attacking each other and have also carried out training missions in the area.Washington has angered Ankara by providing arms, training and air support to the Syrian Kurdish forces. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast for three decades.