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  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a news conference with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui in Tunis, Tunisia December 24, 2018.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a news conference with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui in Tunis, Tunisia December 24, 2018. | Photo: Reuters file.

Published 26 December 2018

The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters his country is “determined” enter Kurdish-held territory in Syria and it suggested the United States should see to it that the agreement for the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Syria is implemented. 

The Turkish government pledged it would enter the Kurdish-held territory in Syria, by crossing the Euphrates river.

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The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters his country is “determined” to carry out the move.

Both the United States and Turkey have traced a roadmap in Syrian which involves the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the town of Manbij.

“It is crucial that the U.S. doesn’t appear as not having kept its promises,” Cavusoglu stated.

The Turkish government has long held the view that Syrian Kurdish forces are partnered up with the local PKK movement, which it blames for creating internal instability, within its own borders.

For its part, the United States has partnered both with Turkish forces and Syrian Kurd forces to battle the Islamic State (IS).

This announcement comes in the context of President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. 2,000 special forces from Syria in a maximum of 100 days. This decision prompted the resignation of Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat the IS, one of many key figures in the Trump administration to leave their posts over disagreements with the president’s policy decisions.

In the aftermath of this announcement, the Turkish military will pick up the previous cooperation efforts with the United States to fight the IS Syrian territory. The Turkish government is confident it has the “strength to neutralize” the IS by itself, according to Cavusoglu.

The minister also warned France—also a member of the coalition of which Turkey and the United States are also members—, which decided to stay on in Syria after the withdrawal of the U.S. troops, not to protect the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) which are the main armed service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee in Syria.

“If France is staying in Syria to protect the YG, that they will neither benefit France nor the YG,” Cavusolgu said.

Turkey plays an important role in the efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict. It has been negotiating on behalf of the Syrian opposition with both Russia and Iran—both countries support the Syrian government—to seek an end to the conflict.

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