Afrin Day 35: Erdoğan slams Pentagon spokesman for Afrin remarks

17:49 Erdogan rounds on Pentagon spokesman over Afrin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rounded on a Pentagon spokesman for remarks criticizing Turkey’s operations in Syria's Afrin, in a latest outburst against the United States.

In a statement to Al Hurra television this week, spokesman Adrian Galloway reiterated concerns about Turkey’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled area, saying more needed to be done to reduce civilian casualties and to fight Islamic State (ISIS)..

“The thing that upsets us the most is the sanctimony and unseriousness of some of our partners, of some countries with which we have very deep political and military relations,” Erdoğan said in a speech at his ruling party’s headquarters in Ankara on Friday. In particular, Turkey was concerned about criticism that focused on the humanitarian element of the operation, he said.

14:32 No Ottoman slap for U.S. after Erdoğan bravado

Anyone unfamiliar with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s demagoguery and cynical flip-flopping might have been surprised when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left Ankara last week without getting an Ottoman slap, wrote Sayed Abdel-Meguid for Ahram Online.

As Erdoğan knows very well, his bombastic threat to impart physical hurt on the United States for its support of Kurdish militants in Syria was, as always, pitched for the gallery and geared to attain domestic political ends, Abdel-Meguid said,

“Neither Tillerson nor anyone else in Washington appears to be feeling the sting. In fact, if anyone’s face is smarting at the moment, it is Turkey’s thanks to Erdoğan’s bluster and bravado style of brinksmanship.”

13:21 Tillerson saved Turkish-U.S. relations from collapse

Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis writes in an editorial for Ahval that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has managed to prevent the collapse of the U.S.-Turkish relationship.

"Turkish-American relations have gone from bad to worse for several years. One of the controversies was the support provided by the United States to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military branch of the strongest Kurdish political party in Syria, Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Obama administration informed Turkey that the United States would keep a record of the weapons delivered to the YPG and promised they would be collected after the defeat of Islamic State (ISIS).

During Tillerson’s visit to Turkey, the Turkish government proposed the expulsion of YPG fighters from Manbij and to deploy Turkish and U.S. troops in the town. Tillerson agreed to consider the proposal."

12:13 Nationalism at core of Turkish support for war on Kurds

Nationalism that arose in the making of the Turkish state amid the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago is one of the main reasons that most Turks support the government’s “wars on Kurds”, writes Stephen Star in the Arab Weekly. 

Large sections of the population do not support Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom Star describes as “one of the most divisive figures in modern Turkey”, but when it comes to “Ankara’s wars on the Kurds” support is widespread.

12:09 Syrian flags waved in Afrin after pro-Assad forces arrive - report

People gathered in the central square of Afrin in northern Syria waving Syrian government flags after the arrival in the city of pro-regime militia, according to a video published by Russian news service RT.

The footage showed dozens of people climbing on cars and monuments hoisting portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad as a larger crowd watched on, RT reported .

10:51 Turkish army publishes footage of strike on 'terror convoy'

Turkey’s military has released video footage of an air operation against a convoy of vehicles heading for Kurdish-controlled Afrin in Syria.

The convoy, moving under cover of darkness and belonging to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Islamic State (ISIS), was made up of 30-40 vehicles and carrying terrorists, weapons and supplies, the military said on its website on Friday. It was engaged about 15 kilometres southeast of Afrin, it said.

9:48 U.S. says Turkish operations hurting fight against ISIS

Turkey’s military operations against Kurdish forces in the northern Syria enclave of Afrin are hindering the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday.

“What is going on in Afrin is taking away from the fight against ISIS,” Nauert said. “It is a distraction, as (U.S. Defense) Secretary (Norman) Mattis had called it.  It is certainly not helpful to have people take their eye off the ball of ISIS.”