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Turkey criticises US over mixed messages on Syria

April 8, 2018 at 11:53 am

Turkey on Saturday criticised the United States for sending what it said were mixed messages on Syria, saying Washington was sowing confusion by equivocating about its future role in the country.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman also told reporters that Turkey was talking to Russia about the Syrian town of Tel Rifaat and would not need to intervene in the area given Moscow’s assurances that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia was not present there.

“The president of the United States says ‘We’re going to get out of Syria very soon’ and then others say, ‘No, we are staying’,” Ibrahim Kalin said, referring to recent comments from Donald Trump and other officials.

“Obviously it does create a lot of confusion on the ground, as well as for us. We would like to see some clarity, for them to decide what is the next step, what is the ultimate goal there.”

Trump agreed in a National Security Council meeting this week to keep US troops in Syria a little longer to defeat Daesh, but he wants them out relatively soon, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

He said in a speech last month that he wanted an early exit of US troops from Syria, a position that was seen as at odds with that of many other Washington officials.

Differences over Syria policy have strained relations between the United States and fellow NATO member Turkey. Washington has backed the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against Daesh. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group and in January launched a military operation in northern Syria’s Afrin region to drive out the YPG.