Turkey sends troops to Syria border as US prepares for pullout talks
Almaty. December 26. KazTAG - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent more troops to Syria's border on Monday ahead of an imminent US withdrawal, threatening a Kurdish militia there as a US delegation prepared for talks on the pullout, reports AFP.
US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from northern Syria has dismayed many of Washington's allies, and critics say Turkey will look to benefit in its fight against US-backed Kurdish forces inside Syria.
Turkey has said any offensive targeting the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia and the Islamic State (IS) group will be launched in the coming months.Turkey views the YPG as a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
But the militia has also been a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, working with American forces on the ground there.
"Just as we did not leave our Syrian Arabs to Daesh (IS), we will not leave Syrian Kurds to the cruelty of the PKK," Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.
A Turkish military convoy arrived overnight on Monday at the border with Syria, with local media reporting that some vehicles had entered Syria.
Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday that a US military delegation would arrive this week to "discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts".
Kalin also said that a Turkish foreign ministry delegation would go to Washington for talks on the pull-out on January 8.
In a telephone conversation Sunday between Trump and Erdogan, which both sides described as "productive", they agreed to avoid a power vacuum in Syria after the US withdrawal.
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