World Erdogan spokesman slams U.S. military for backing Syrian Kurdish militia

09:50  12 january  2017
09:50  12 january  2017 Source:   Reuters

Turkey questions U.S.-led coalition presence at Incirlik air base

  Turkey questions U.S.-led coalition presence at Incirlik air base Turkish officials are questioning the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces at an air base in southern Turkey over what they see as insufficient support for Turkey's military operations against Islamic State in Syria. President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Thursday there was no need for a "rushed evaluation" on Incirlik, a base used by NATO allies to launch air strikes against Islamic State in neighbouring Syria.

Erdogan ’ s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Thursday ruled out the possibility of Turkey joining an operation by coalition Turkish military operations are focused on Syrian Kurdish forces and not Islamic State, observers say. The Kurdish militia has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.

Turkey on Friday accused the United States of hypocrisy after U . S . commandos in Syria were pictured supporting a major ground offensive led by a Kurdish militia branded a terror group by Ankara. The AFP photographer saw U . S . forces on the ground in northern Syria helping the Kurdish -Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a major offensive against IS in its stronghold of Raqa province. Several U . S . commandos were also photographed wearing the military insignia of the YPG, which make up the bulk of the SDF.

Turkey's President Erdogan addresses district governors at the Presidential Palace in Ankara © REUTERS Turkey's President Erdogan addresses district governors at the Presidential Palace in Ankara Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman lashed out at the U.S. military on Thursday after it re-tweeted a statement by a Kurdish-dominated alliance it backs in Syria saying it had no links to Kurdish militants fighting the Turkish state.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, the main U.S. partner on the ground in Syria in the fight against Islamic State, includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

U.S.-backed force seizes Syria citadel from Islamic State

  U.S.-backed force seizes Syria citadel from Islamic State U.S.-backed militias in Syria have captured an ancient citadel from Islamic State (IS) in a strategically significant advance against the jihadist group in its stronghold of Raqqa province, a spokesman said on Friday. The Jabar citadel on the banks of Lake Assad was taken by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance on Thursday, militia spokesman Talal Silo said. It is located near a dam on the Euphrates River that the U.S.-backed alliance also aims to capture in the current phase of its campaign.

Redur Xelil, spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia , said the intervention was a “blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs” and accused Ankara of working in agreement with the Syrian government and its backer , Iran. Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump in U . S . presidential race September 24, 2016. Some Yahoo users close accounts amid fears breach could have ripple effects September 24, 2016. Turkey’s Erdogan slams U . S . for arming Syrian Kurds September 23, 2016.

The Syrian Kurdish force is one of the most powerful militias in Syria and regarded as the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U . S .- backed alliance formed last October to fight Islamic State. "The myth that the YPG is the only effective force fighting Islamic State has collapsed," Erdogan 's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, reflecting Turkish frustration at how closely Washington has been working with the Kurdish militia .

"SDF confirms that it has no affiliation or ties to PKK," U.S. Central Command said on Twitter, re-tweeting a statement by the SDF in which it said it was not part of the PKK and wanted a strong relationship with neighbors including Turkey.

"Is this a joke or @CENTCOM has lost its senses?," Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, replied.

"Do you believe anyone will buy this? The U.S. must stop trying to legitimize a terrorist group."

U.S. support for the YPG has been a major sticking point between Washington and Turkey, a NATO ally and a member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

Turkey is hoping that the incoming U.S. administration under President-elect Donald Trump will re-think its policy in Syria and stop providing support to Kurdish militia fighters.

(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Daren Butler)

Turkish parliament approves presidential system, paving way for referendum .
The Turkish parliament approved a constitutional reform bill overnight including strengthening the powers of the presidency, paving the way for a referendum expected in the spring which could see President Tayyip Erdogan in office until 2029. Erdogan says the reform will provide stability in the European Union candidate country at a time of turmoil and prevent a return to the fragile coalitions of the past. His opponents fear it will herald increasingly authoritarian rule.The bill was approved with 339 votes, parliament said on its official Twitter account on Saturday.

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