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The administration is trying to contain the fallout from Erdogan’s decision to send forces last week to attack Syrian Kurdish militia that were Washington’s close allies.
Washington sent its top officials to Turkey for emergency talks to try to persuade Ankara to stop an assault on northern Syria, while Russian troops swept into territory abandoned by the U.S. in a sudden retreat.
Robert O’Brien, White House national security adviser arrived in Turkey aiming to meet Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, while VP Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expecting to meet the following day with President Tayyip Erdogan.
President Donald Trump swiftly upended five years of U.S. policy with his unexpected decision to withhold protection from Syria’s Kurds, after a phone call with Erdogan. The Turkish president has insisted there will be no ceasefire and said he might call off a visit to Washington next month because of the “very big disrespect” shown by American politicians.
He also denounced the United States for taking the “unlawful, ugly step” of imposing criminal charges against a Turkish state bank over charges it broke sanctions on Iran.
Syrian government troops joined by Russian forces meanwhile entered the city of Kobani, a strategically important border city and a potential flashpoint for a wider conflict. The arrival follows a deal between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces militia, which has controlled the city, and Damascus to deploy the Syrian army in border areas to help fend off the Turkish offensive.
Turkey’s assault forced Washington to abandon a strategy in place for five years and pull its troops from northern Syria.