TUrkey Denies Use of Chemicals in Syria's Afrin, Says Allegations Baseless

Tuesday, 20 Feb, 2018

Ankara is now prioritizing the implementation of decisions made in recent meetings between the USA and Turkey, after heavy diplomatic traffic to address disagreements between the two sides over Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

Rojhat Roj, commander of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin debunked reports about Kurdish militias making an agreement with Damascus to have Syrian armed forces deployed in the province to protect it from Turkey. The official objective of the operation against representatives of the Kurdish party Democratic Union (PYD) and its armed people's protection Units (YPG), which in Turkey are considered terrorist.

USA support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria has infuriated Ankara, which views them as a security threat along its frontier.

Turkey has also threatened to push toward the Syrian town of Manbij-under the control of the Kurdish-led forces-and warned U.S. troops stationed there not to get in the way. But the joint statement issued Friday contained only anodyne affirmations of respect and a promise to keep talking. Tillerson is expected to inform Turkey that the Kurds are the US's only allies in Syria and that a strong Kurdish-US alliance is imperative to US interests when it comes to breaking the chains of Russian and Iranian hegemony in Syria. He is due to meet the foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Friday.

Perhaps with a view to that potential flash point in western Syria, and another one farther east around the city of Manbij, Tillerson vowed after the meeting that the days when the two countries operated independently in the fight against the Islamic State were over.

Hediye Yusuf, a Syrian Kurdish politician, posted photos of several allegedly wounded men on Twitter on Saturday, claiming they were exposed to a sarin gas attack by Turkish forces.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

"Murderer USA!" they chanted, comparing the United States to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Standing next to Tillerson, Cavusoglu said Turkey's relationship with the United States "is at a critical stage", and the two allies need to decide whether "to mend fences, or go in a different direction", reported Al Jazeera. We take it seriously when our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey says it has security concerns.

"You hit us, we will respond aggressively".

"Holding negotiations is surely valuable but we are most interested in results".

Turkish forces entered the northwestern Syrian region, centered around the city of Afrin, and have been "liberating" village after village with deadly force.