Jan 17 2018

Tillerson aims to calm Turkey’s Syria fears

The USA will ensure that an interim peace deal in Syria “will not threaten any neighbouring states”, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a policy meeting at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Tillerson made the comments in reference to Turkish fears over the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Syria, and also praised Turkey’s role in fighting the Islamic State, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The comments came as Turkey continued preparations to assault Afrin, a majority-Kurdish area in north western Syria that is held by the armed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), considered an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party by Turkey.

The USA announced the creation of a 30,000-strong border force in Syria, to include fighters from the YPG, sparking furious reactions from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Tillerson responded to the crisis during his speech at Stanford, saying that the USA would continue to work with Turkey, and understood its concerns about the PYD, the Turkish opposition newspaper Sözcü reported.

“We will work together with Turkey to fight against all terrorist organisations”, Sözcü reported Tillerson as saying.

The USA did not see any place for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future, Tillerson said, also calling for close cooperation with Russia to end the conflict in “de-escalation zones”.

Tillerson also ruled out “nation-building” by the USA in Syria after the civil war, but said that a U.S. military presence would remain in the country.