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America Out / Turkey In / Kurds Down

The Kurds have no friends but the mountains.

Operation Fountain of Peace / Baris Pinari Harekati

The name of operation Baris Pinari is ambiguos when translated to English. The phrase "Baris Pinari" is commonly rendered as "Peace Spring", and while some may argue about the meaning of "Peace", the term "spring" has many meanings. As a verb, it means "move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward or forward", while as a noun it is "the season after winter and before summer, in which vegetation begins to appear", or "a resilient device, typically a helical metal coil, that can be pressed or pulled but returns to its former shape when released, used chiefly to exert constant tension", or "a place where water wells up from an underground source, or the basin or flow formed in such a way".

Nearly half of English words are polysemous - they have more than one meaning. All four of these names have some plausible meaning as part of the name of a military operation. Perhaps it is enough to celebrate the polysemy of this operation's name. But perhaps not. Probably the best rendering of "Baris Pinari" is Fountain of Peace.

On 05 October 2019 Turkey announced it is calling its upcoming operation “fountain of peace”, sometimes also termed “Peace Spring” or “Spring of Peace” [which is polysemous] or “well of peace” [which is too passive] in various media. ”We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given. It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation,” Erdogan said. “Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace,” he added.

Turkey plans to resettle two million Syrians in a 30-km (19 m) wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. Turkey rid an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – to purge the region of the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which Turkey sees as the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

The withdrawal of US troops from the area around Syria's northeast border with Turkey on 07 October 2019 set the stage for a military confrontation between Washington's long-time Kurdish allies and fellow NATO member Ankara. Following President Donald Trump's announcement on 06 October 2019 that US troops would stand aside to allow a long-threatened Turkish military operation, Turkey was expected to send its forces across the frontier within days. Turkey had reinforced its Second Army, responsible for defending its southern borders, along the frontier with SDF-controlled territory, including elite, battle-hardened units.

Ibrahim Karagül is a Turkish writer and journalist. He is the editor-in-chief of Turkish Yeni Safak newspaper. Yeni Safak is Erdogan's main mouthpiece. Its editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Karagul, is known for incendiary columns, especially on foreign policy issues. Ibrahim Karagül argued "We are going to do whatever we have been doing on these soils for a millennium. ... Those who placed the “map drafts” on our table are going to their table crushed. The plans designed despite us, against us, to hit and injure us, to exclude us from history and the region, to imprison us inside Anatolia are going to be ruined once more.... No country can defend itself at the zero point of its border.... If we fail to stop the threat on the other side of our border today, then we will have to confront it inside Anatolia tomorrow... Nobody should dare attempt to teach this nation, which has shaped maps and made history on this land for a millennium... The Syria war is no longer a Syrian issue. It has long turned into a world war.... We closed off the Mediterranean door through the Euphrates Shield and Afrin operations. Now, the east door is being closed off through Operation Claw that is ongoing in the north of Iraq. But we have a hundreds-of-kilometers-long front ahead of us."

Turkey vs Kurds 2019 Turkey vs Kurds 2019 Turkey vs Kurds 2019

With the landscape of Syria's northeast comprising low and open plains well-suited to armored and mechanised units, a potential battle would seem to offer a swift victory for Turkey. It will be easier than Euphrates Shield. Not only is the terrain less tough but there is not the worry about ISIS moving into areas cleared of the YPG.

While the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had been extensively armed by Washington to lead the ground fight against ISIL, it lacked the armor, artillery and air power of a modern military force. Turkey, which boasts the second-largest army in NATO, has all the attributes of such a power and its troops have gained experience through two previous operations in northern Syria, as well as decades of fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) within its own borders.

Turkish troops and the newly-regrouped Syrian National Army (SNA) began Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on 09 October 2019. The operation aimed to protect Syria’s territorial integrity and save the people of the region from the grip of terror, Erdogan tweeted at the start of military action in Ras al Ayn in northeastern Syria. The Turkish president said the operation will neutralise terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone that will facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. "We will preserve Syria's territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists," Erdogan said.

"This operation is being carried out in accordance with international law, Article 51 of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions on the fight against terrorism,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. With the operation, the region will be cleared of terrorists, Syria’s border security and territorial integrity will be guaranteed, displaced people will be able to return safely to their homes and peace and safety will prevail in the region, he added.

Turkish airstrikes and howitzers hit 181 terror targets as part of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, said Defense Ministry on 09 October 2019. "Within the scope of the Operation Peace Spring; Turkish Armed Forces hit 181 terrorist positions with air forces elements and fire supporter vehicles". Turkish jets destroyed YPG/PKK targets 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) deep east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria as part of Operation Peace Spring. YPG/PKK targets at the Rami Airbase and its ammunition depot near Ayn Isa district, as well as five villages, including Aluk and Tal Fender, were hit by Turkish F-16 jets. The airstrikes also hit the elements in the city of Ras al Ayn, as well as those in the rural areas of Derik and Qamasli districts. Anadolu Agency footage showed YPG/PKK terrorists burning tires in Ras al Ayn to block the recording of Turkish drones and the view of fighter jets.

While Damascus does not recognise the Kurdish self-proclaimed autonomous region in the north, the Syrian leadership denounced Ankara's operation as a violation of the Republic's sovereignty. Iran and a number of European countries have also condemned the Turkish military operation. Walid Muallem, Syria’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs made it clear at the UNGA74 that any and all foreign troops who are present on Syrian territory without consent from the Syrian state are considered occupation forces and will be dealt with accordingly.

Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic US Senator Chris Van Hollen on 09 October 2019 unveiled an outline for proposed sanctions on Turkey, including targeting US assets held by Turkey, and imposing visa restrictions on its leadership. This came as part of a proposed bipartisan legislation which would also impose sanctions on any military transactions with Turkey, set sanctions on anyone who supports Turkey's domestic energy industry for use by its armed forces, prohibit the sale of US defence articles to the Turkey armed forces and define Turkey 's purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system as "significant" and subject to sanctions. Responding to Lindsey Graham’s tweet announcing the bipartisan opposition, Fahruttin Altin, Turkish Presidency Communications Director tweeted back: "We were in a rush to unleash hell on PKK and ISIS [Daesh] terrorists, who threatened our citizens."

Senator Rand Paul alleged actors in Syria wanted to "keep starting endless wars in conflicts that go back hundreds of years." He praised Trump as the first president in his life to "understand what is our national interest and what is not." Paul wrote "He is stopping the endless wars and we will be stronger as a result. The Cheney/Graham Neocon War Caucus has cost us too much fighting endless wars".

A total of 228 terrorists have been killed so far since Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said 10 October 2019. Turkish troops continuing their advance into northern Syria following a ground offensive launched as part of Operation Peace Spring, the Defence Ministry said. "Our heroic commandos who are participating in Operation Peace Spring continue to advance [into the region] east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria," the ministry said.

“Nine more PKK/PYD-YPG terrorists neutralized in air operation within the scope of Operation Peace Spring. A total of 228 terrorists neutralized so far since Turkey started Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria," the ministry said. The US-led anti-Daesh coalition's "demographic engineering" in northeastern Syria prompted Turkey's military operation in the area, Russia's envoy to the UN charged. "This operation is a result of demographic engineering that some of the coalition partners did in the northeast of Syria," Vassily Nebenzia told reporters at the international body's New York headquarters. "Now, in fact, the coalition is reaping the fruit of their demographic policies in that part of Syria."

A total of 342 terrorists had been killed since the start of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria this week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said 11 October 2019. Turkey's National Defense Ministry rejected claims that the Turkish army had targeted a US observation post east of the Euphrates in northern Syria amid its counter-terror operation. "It is out of the question that any fire targeted the US's observation post", the ministry said in a written statement 11 Octobe 2019. The statement outlined that every kind of measure was being taken in order not to harm the US base, adding that terrorist sources of harassment fire 1km south of the US observation post were targeted. It further said that fire was halted as a precautionary measure when the US conveyed its concerns.

Successful operations in northern Syria by Turkey and Syrian National Army led to the liberation of the town Ras al Ayn from PKK/YPG terrorists as Operation Peace Spring continues, Turkey's Defence Ministry said 12 October 2019. According to the ministry, the battle for the strategic town was relatively quick as Turkish forces and Syrian National Army took control of surrounding villages first. Earlier, the ministry also confirmed that overnight raids in the region were conducted successfully. Land and air assaults were carried out resulting in a total of 415 terrorists being killed since the operation began. Turkish-backed Syrian National Army have reached strategic M4 highway in northern Syria, as forces continue their advance deeper into the region as part of Operation Peace Spring.

More than 100,000 people from the towns of Ras al Ayn and Tal Abyad have been displaced by the escalation of violence in Syria, the UN World Food Programme said. The World Food Program and its partners will still support people in the northeast despite a deterioration in the security situation, it said. About 580,000 of the people it feeds in the region are currently living in YPG-controlled areas.

Manbij, 85 km east of Aleppo, was liberated by the Kurdish units of the People’s Self-Defense Forces in August 2016. Previously, the city served as an outpost of terrorists from the Islamic State (a group is prohibited in the Russian Federation), who seized it from militants from the so-called moderate opposition. The Russian Ministry of Defense on 15 October 2019 reported that the Syrian army took control of Manbij and the surrounding area. At the same time, US troops left their bases in the vicinity of the settlements of Dadat and Umm-Mial, leaving in the direction of the Syrian-Iraqi border. Currently, Dadat and Umm Mial are also occupied by Syrian government forces.

Turkey vs Kurds 2019 Turkey vs Kurds 2019 Turkey vs Kurds 2019

Safar Safarov, an officer of the military police of the Russian Armed Forces, said that "when the Russian flag is seen, hostilities cease automatically". The military police of the Russian Federation on the Tiger armored vehicles for the first time organized a patrol in Manbij in the eastern part of Aleppo province. This was announced by an officer of the military police of the Armed forces of Russia Safar Safarov. “Our patrol drove through the streets of this city for the first time. When the Russian flag is seen, the fighting stops automatically: neither the Turks nor the Kurds want to harm us, so thanks to our work the fighting stops. A week ago we couldn’t allow ourselves to call in Manbij openly, with the demonstration of the flag - US troops from their two military bases constantly interfered with us, intercepted us on the road because of different understandings of the areas of responsibility <...> Last week we blocked each other three times on the road," Safarov noted.

In a bizarrely worded letter written 09 October and published by Fox Business on 16 October, Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "don't be a fool", saying that he risked being branded a "devil" due to the Turkish-led offensive into northeast Syria. In the letter - dated October 9, the day the offensive was launched - Trump called on Erdogan "to make a good deal", warning him of the possible "destruction" of Turkey's economy if the offensive continued. "You don't want to be responsible for the slaughtering of thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy," he wrote. "History will look on your favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," Trump wrote in the letter which the White House confirmed was real. "It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!"

A Turkish official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the London-based Middle East Eye that Ankara threw away Trump's letter to Erdogan in the dustbin. "We just dumped his letter to the trash," the official said, adding: "The date on the letter is 9 October, the same day we began Operation Peace Spring. Our president gave the best response by launching the operation on the same day at 4pm."

The US House of Representatives voted 354-60 on 16 October to condemn Trump's decision to withdraw some 1,000 US special forces from northeast Syria, effectively clearing the way for Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces there. The bipartisan vote was a stark warning to the president that Congress did not support his abrupt decision, which left Kurdish fighters to fend for themselves. They later joined hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Turkey.

On 17 October 2019 ImageSat Intl. reported "Significant signs of fire and abandonment in the area of the #ISIS refugee camp in Ayn Issa, including the displacement of a large number of tents. Our assessment: since the beginning of #Turkey's #PeaceSpringOperation, ISIS is taking advantage of the situation and escaping." The Turkish assault created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of ISIS fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for President Donald Trump.

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US Vice President Mike Pence said on 17 October 2019 he had reached a deal with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for a ceasefire in northern Syria to end an eight-day-old Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led forces. Speaking after crisis talks with Erdogan in Ankara, Pence said that under the deal all military operations would be paused to allow a pullback of Kurdish YPG militia over a 120-hour period. The Turkish military operation would end once that withdrawal was complete, Pence told a news conference. “The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence said. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”

Top Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said Damascus “cannot accept” another Iraqi Kurdistan in Syria, comments that came just after an agreement announced by US Vice President Mike Pence in Turkey. Shaaban said “important steps” had been taken so far with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, but that all remaining issues could not be resolved at once. Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the SDF, told Kurdish media the Kurdish-led forces would abide by the ceasefire agreement. The extent of the ceasefire stretched 100km along the Syria-Turkey border from the town of Tel Abyad to Ras al-Ain, he told Ronahi TV. "We have not discussed the fate of other areas," he said in Kurdish, referring to parts of the northeast where Turkey wants to create what it calls a "safe zone". "We will do whatever we can for the success of the ceasefire agreement," Abdi said, describing it as a "tentative agreement."

"It's not a ceasefire." Said the European Council's President Donald Tusk: "The so-called ceasefire is not what we expected. In fact, it's not a ceasefire, it's a demand of capitulation of the Kurds," he told reporters in Brussels. For that reason, he continued, "We have to reiterate our call to Turkey to put a permanent end to its military action immediately and withdraw its forces and respect the international humanitarian law."

Clashes continued on the border between Turkey and Syria, despite the fact that the two sides were supposed to have come to a five-day ceasefire agreement yesterday. Kurdish officials said that the Turkish military continues to shell civilian targets along the border, and that the Turkish army bombed a hospital in Ras al-Ayn.

From Chinese satellite photos, it can be said that very complete preparations were made. The remote sensing think tank discovered it using satellite photos and found the deployment of the Turkish army. As can be seen from the satellite photos, the Turkish ground forces are divided into five main offensive directions, and each offensive direction has multiple frontal attacks and flanking protection. For example, from the photos, it can be seen that in the Kurdish armed forces who persisted for 11 days in Ras al-Ain, the Turkish army did more than just attack. Moreover, a defensive position was established one kilometer south of the city in case a reinforcements rushed in to make a siege. Satellite photos show that Turkish heavy forces are mainly deployed in border areas, with fire strikes within a range of 40 kilometers. Basically, the attack range of the Turkish army.

Chinese Imagery Chinese Imagery

Background

Turkey said 08 October 2019 its forces were ready for military action to establish a "safe zone" in northern Syria, even as critics have raised doubts about the plan. Ankara has long maintained the goal of the long-threatened push is to drive the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - an armed group Turkey considers a "terrorist organisation" - away from the border area and create the conditions needed for the return of Syrian refugees. Turkish officials said the establishment of this "peace corridor" stretching some 30km (19 miles) into neighbouring Syria's northeastern region is "essential" for regional peace and the safety and stability of Syrians.

Turkey considers the safe zone a space where about two million of the more than 3.6 million refugees currently hosted on its soil can be returned to. Officials say at least 350,000 Syrians have voluntarily returned to areas in northern Syria following Turkey's two previous operations - 2016's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Aleppo province and last year's Operation Olive Branch in Afrin. One million people were expected to be settled. Districts to host 30,000 people and the villages to host 5,000 people each. Initially, 10 districts and 140 villages will be settled. This is a draft plan, studies still under way.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that controls the northeastern region from east of the Euphrates River to the Iraq border argued that by sending millions of Syrians back to this area Turkey seeks to change local demographics.

War came almost 6 weeks after Erdogan officially announced there will be soon a Turkish operation in east of Euphrates against Kurds and added Turkey will not wait for USA anymore to make a “Safe Zone” in north of Syria. What began with Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch would soon move into the next stage to eliminate the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), from northern Syria and establish a safe zone in the region. "We will move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to a different phase very soon," Erdogan said 06 August 2019 at the 11th annual Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara.

These words of Erdogan were after US and Turkey experience failed for Manbij area entitled “Manbij Roadmap”. In Roadmap of Manbij, Kurdish forces were supposed to leave Manbij area and US. and Turkey forming joint patrols securing the area; but Kurds did not leave and after a few useless patrols, the plan left alone…

Turkey having bitter experiences of working with United States in Manbij, was determined to attack east of Euphrates. Thus, a team of US officials visited Turkey to negotiate with Turks and in latest statements by Turkish officials, it was announced American and Turkish stances regarding Kurds of north of Syria are getting closer to each other and a “joint operation room” has been formed to monitor situation of the area.

Nevertheless, after a few days of these announcements, controversial news was heard from US-Turkey negotiation. Mevlüt Çavusoglu, Turkish FM, in a joint press meeting with Sierra Leone FM in Ankara stated that “Ankara will not tolerate any delay from the United States over setting up a safe zone in northern Syria and the tactics USA is utilizing right now are what they used in the issue of Manbij and they did not fulfill their promises.”

This statement by Turkish FM particularly showed Turkish official stance regarding the “Safe Zone” in north of Syria which showed the negotiation between USA and Turkey was not that instructive or at least not for Turkey. He emphasized that the initial agreement between Ankara and Washington is to establish a Safe Zone but this is only a beginning and “many issues and details” need to be clarified. He added that Trump promised to have a Safe Zone with depth of 32 km with several watch posts and Turkish drones have already started to surveillance flights.

On the other hand, the Pentagon released a statement regarding the Safe Zone and said that this agreement will be implemented in several stages and Lieutenant General Stephen Twitty, deputy commander of the US European Command (EUCOM) will be the head of a military group to monitor the joint operation room between USA and Turkey will travel to Sanliurfa, south of Turkey.

Turkey vs Kurds 2019 Turkey vs Kurds 2019

Although the details of the agreement on “Safe Zone” in north of Syria had not yet released officially but according to current information from unofficial and official sources, it can be concluded that:

  • Turkey wants a Safe Zone covering all its border with Syria in east of Euphrates with the depth of 32 km but this request is not acceptable by SDF and USA. United states has proposed Safe Zone between Tell Abiad and Raas Al Ayn with length of 100 km and depth of 15 km.
  • Turkish surveillance planes can fly over Safe Zoneand survey the area.
  • Safe Zone is under control of Turkey-US coalition and heavy ammo will retreat to 20 km away from the zone.
  • Turkey will erect 10 watch post and the number can increase in future.
  • American and Turkish forces will patrol jointly, however Turkish forces cannot enter the towns inside the Safe Zone.

Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar had a phone call 03 October 2019 with the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper. Concerning the activities for the establishment of the Safe Zone together with the U.S., Minister Akar stated the following:

  • Turkey which had neutralized more than 3000 DAESH terrorists in Operation Euphrates Shield, will not let a “terror corridor” to be established to the south of its borders.
  • A Peace Corridor / Safe Zone that is cleared from heavy weapons and terrorists along the border in a depth of approximately 30 km. in the east of the Euphrates must be established.
  • In case of any delay or stalling, these activities will be terminated and that Turkey is firmly determined on this issue.
  • Turkey expects the U.S. to completely terminate support, starting with weapons and munitions, provided to the PKK/PYD/YPG,
  • Turkey desires security not only for our nation and country, but also for the other religious and ethnic groups of Syria, including Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Chaldeans.
  • Turkey’s final objective is to put an end to the presence of DAESH/PKK/PYD/YPG and all other terrorists in the north of Syria; and to establish a peace corridor there so as to enable our Syrian brothers to return to their own lands and homes.
  • Finally, continuing our dialogue, wishing to resolve the problem through peaceful means, in the spirit of the NATO alliance and strategic partnership, should not be considered as a weakness, nor should the fact that our plans are ready be seen as a threat.

As early as 28 February 2017, Erdogan said Manbij was Turkey‘s next step in Syrian operations. Nearly a year later, on 27 January 2018, Erdogan said military operations would make a big sweep east across Syria. Erdogan said October 31, 2018 that Turkey will soon launch another military operation against the US-backed YPG in northern Syria. The country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked US forces to clear the contentious Manbij town of YPG forces so as to avert any direct confrontation with Washington. YPG forces are embedded with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij, where Turkey and the US recently announced to conduct joint patrols.

"We are now calling on the US to clear Manbij once and for all, so that the rightful residents can go back to their own lands. Or else we will walk into Manbij," said Erdogan 14 December 2018. "Turkey has wasted enough time by not intervening in the swamp of terror to the east of the Euphrates. From now on, we will not tolerate even one day of delay in the clearance of Manbij," he said.

A spokesman for Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose forces will possibly participate in the upcoming operation, also indicated that Manbij will be one of the targeted areas. “The battle will be launched simultaneously from several fronts. It will be in Manbij and Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn,” said Major Youssef Hamoud.

The towns are spread over a vast territory mostly located between the east and west of the Euphrates river, but in a close proximity to the Turkish border. In previous operations, the Euphrates Shield and the Olive Branch, Turkey took control of several key locations after defeating both the YPG and Daesh. The upcoming operation aims to target the YPG areas east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria.

The upcoming operation may also put Turkey and the US, two NATO allies, at odds due to the US decision to continue treating the armed group as its ally in the fight against Daesh. The US refuses to accept any connection between the PKK and the YPG, despite Turkey providing strong evidence proving the relationship.

Experts in Turkey argue that its NATO ally has ‘long-term designs’ aimed at creating a YPG-led Kurdish-dominated autonomous region, which could be a mirror image of the Kurdish autonomous region Washington carved out in northern Iraq in the 1990s, soon after the first Gulf War. The YPG recruits most of its cadres from the Kurdish-populated areas of northern Syria, which neighbors Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern region. Soon after the Assad regime withdrew from northern Syria during the civil war, the YPG moved in, creating ‘cantons’, or autonomous areas, in the region in 2012.

Turkey had repeatedly said that the country will not allow a PKK-imposed Kurdish corridor ranging from northern Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea.

Erdogan said 17 December 2018 that US President Donald Trump had responded positively to Turkey's plans to launch an offensive on the eastern side of the Euphrates River. When asked whether the Turkish president had made a misstatement, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said, "Yes." The United States is focused on reforming the Syrian government and "the international process that gives everyone a chance to live in Syria," Palladino said.

Erdogan said 20 December 2018 that following a telephone talk with US President Donald Trump on 14 December he decided to postpone the beginning of the military operation in Syria. "The decision to conduct the operation east of the Euphrates is made, but, following the talks with Trump and the recent events, we chose to postpone its start", Erdogan said. The Turkish president also shared that Trump made his decision to withdraw American troops from the Arab Republic after he promised that Turkey would clear all remaining Daesh* forces from Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 21 December 2018 that his country would hold off on a military operation against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, citing a telephone conversation this past week with U.S. President Donald Trump. "Our phone call with Mr. Trump, as well as the contacts of our diplomatic and security units, and the statements from the American side have led us to wait a little longer," Erdogan said during an awards ceremony in Istanbul. "Of course, this is not an open waiting period," he said, underlining his country's intention to carry out an assault in "the coming months" on the Kurdish fighters, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), who played a key role in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

By January 2019 the US and Turkey were engaged in negotiations surrounding a proposed 30 kilometer (18 mile) "buffer zone" in Syria between Turkish and Kurdish forces. Following a phone conversation with President Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the US had proposed the creation of a 30 km buffer zone in Syria to be controlled by the Turkish military. Damascus rejected the proposal, with a senior Syrian official telling Syrian media that Ankara had turned "a blind eye to the international resolutions which have always affirmed respect for Syrian territorial integrity."




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