Afrin Day 21: Tillerson sees tough talks with Turkey on northern Syria 

All updates about the twenty-second day of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin are here.

19.48 Tillerson sees tough talks with Turkey on northern Syria 

(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press Turkey to rein in its military operation in northern Syria during a visit to the NATO ally next week, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Briefing reporters on Tillerson's Feb. 11-16 trip to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait, U.S. officials said there would be tough conversations at each stop, notably in Jordan, upset by the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and by the U.S. limiting aid for the Palestinians.

The United States and Turkey, allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are also deeply divided over a Turkish military air and ground operation into the Afrin region in northwest Syria targeting the Kurdish YPG militia.

U.S. support for the Kurdish-led forces has infuriated Turkey, which views growing Kurdish power as a security threat along its frontier. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade-long insurgency in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

"We are urging them to show restraint in their operations in Afrin and to show restraint further along the line across the (border) in northern Syria," a U.S. official told reporters in a conference call. "That's going to be a difficult conversation."

Speaking of U.S.-Turkish relations, he added: "Look it's difficult. The rhetoric is hot. The Turks are angry, and this is a difficult time to do business but it's our belief that there are still some very fundamental underlying shared interests." 

12.11 Turks and Kurds seek support of Azeris and Armenians over Afrin

Turks and Kurds have been seeking the support of Azeris and Armenians respectively in their attempts to gain international support for their causes in the conflict in the Syrian region of Afrin, Emil Sanamyan wrote.

“Accounts associated with the Azerbaijani lobby in Turkey distributed photos, apparently taken in the war zone, showing messages written on shells like ‘Karabakh is Turkish, will remain Turkish’ with a hashtag for the Turkish official name for the Afrin operation, Olive Branch,” Sanamyan said.

10.11 Russia "continually in contact with PYD" - ambassador

Russia is continually in contact with the majority-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, its ambassador to Damascus has said, according to Islamist newspaper Akit.

"In contrast to expectations, we believe that excluding the PYD from any format of talks would be damaging. We are continually in contact with the PYD through the channel of our Russian reconciliation centre in Hmeymim," Alexander Kinshchak was quoted as saying.

09.57 Turkey and Russia stabilising Syria - Russian Deputy FM

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said that Turkey and Russia were playing key roles in the stabilisation of Syria.

"At the same time, developments in Afrin that have, among other things, been provoked by the actions of the Americans (the United States is planning to supply more weapons to U.S.-controlled groups in Syria, allegedly for combating ISIS) might, indeed, destabilise this region still further," he said.

09.13 Turkey resumes bombing campaign in Afrin

Turkish warplanes resumed strikes on Kurdish YPG militia targets in Syria's Afrin region on Friday after a five-day lull that followed the shooting down of Russian warplane elsewhere in Syria, the Hürriyet newspaper and other media reported.

Hürriyet said Turkey had halted air strikes as Russia worked on its air defence system after Syrian rebels shot down a Russian warplane in Idlib province on Feb. 3.



(All times Turkish)

All updates about the twentieth day of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin are here.