19:05 GMT +319 February 2018
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    US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armoured vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey on April 28, 2017. (File)

    Turkey Urges US to Remove Leading Force From SDF Amid Afrin Operation

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    Turkey is currently conducting the operation in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin, targeting Kurdish groups, which Ankara considers to be terrorists, with the US pledging its support in the fight against terrorist threats.

    Turkey's Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said that he asked the Pentagon's head Jim Mattis to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG units from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US is backing in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria.

    READ MORE: France Demands Urgent UNSC Meeting Over Turkish Operation in Syria's Afrin

    Mattis in his turn said after the meeting with his Turkish counterpart that Washington stands with Turkey on its legitimate security concerns. The US defense secretary also added that the two NATO allies were "finding common ground," though there are still "areas of uncommon ground, where sometimes war just gives you bad alternatives to choose from." The talks between the US and Turkey defense ministries were "honest and transparent," according to Mattis.

    On Tuesday, Mattis stated that the US would continue to train local security forces in Syria and maintain a military presence in the country as long as required to defeat Daesh, though Washington was aware of Ankara's concerns. Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the US to "stop this theater with Daesh in Syria," adding that a decision by the US to continue to fund the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia would affect Turkey's decisions.

    READ MORE: WATCH the Beginning of Turkey's Military Operation in Northern Syria

    Tensions between the US and Turkey has heightened amid Ankara's ongoing operation against some Kurdish groups in Syria's Afrin, as the two NATO allies define terrorists in different ways. Turkey launched its offensive in Syria after the news broke that the US was planning to build a 30,000-strong force on the northern Syrian borders, which would consist from the SDF largely dominated by the YPG fighters. Washington does not consider the Kurdish YPG to be a terrorist organisation, whereas Ankara suspects the militia of ties to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by both Turkey and the US as it wages a violent insurgency in Turkey, demanding autonomous status.

    Turkey has repeatedly urged the US to stop sypplying the YPG units in Syria with weapons, as Washington provides support to Kurdish militants fighting in Syria against terrorist groups. In January, Washington noted that it did not provide any training or arms to the Kurds located in the Afrin area, as the US was focused on the Euphrates River Valley operations to the South and to the East.

    Related:

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    Turkish FM Slams Western Community Over Ignorance of Afrin's Civilian Casualties
    Ankara Probing Country of Origin of Weapon That Destroyed Turkish Tank in Afrin
    Turkish 'Olive Branch': General Staff on Results of Offensive in Afrin
    SDF Say Liberated Settlement Near Afrin From Pro-Turkey Militants
    Tags:
    Operation Olive Branch, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), James Mattis, Afrin, United States, Turkey
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