Published by Ekurd Daily on 31/8/2016

Turkey’s EU minister Omer Celik. Photo: TASS

Turkey’s EU minister Omer Celik. Photo: TASS

ISTANBUL,— Turkey on Wednesday said it did “not accept” US claims that it had agreed a truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.

“We do not accept in any circumstances … a ‘compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements,’” EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency.

“The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state.”

Celik said Turkey could not be put on an equal footing with a “terrorist organisation”, referring to the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Washington said Tuesday the two sides — both US allies — had agreed to a cessation of hostilities between their forces in Syria after deadly clashes at the weekend.

Omer Celik told Anadolu news that some Syrian Kurdish militia fighters remain west of the Euphrates river despite promises to move to the east, which is unacceptable.

The YPG said on last week its forces have returned to their bases after the mission was successfully completed in Manbij. A US defense official told AFP on Monday that US-backed Kurdish YPG forces have “all” moved east of the Euphrates River.

Kurdish-backed militias in Syria agreed Tuesday to a US initiative to stop fighting Turkish forces whose week-old incursion in the country has stoked tensions between Washington and Ankara.

The truce was announced separately by a senior US defence official in Washington and the Kurdish-backed Syrian fighters.

A Kurdish military official said a ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish-backed militia fighters was holding. But Turkish military sources denied there was any such agreement, while a Turkish-backed Syrian rebel commander characterized it only as a “pause” and said that military operations would soon resume.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday Turkey will press on with its offensive in northern Syria until all threats are removed and the nation’s national security is guaranteed.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday Turkey’s week-long incursion into northern Syria aims to clear Islamic State fighters from a 90 km (56-mile) stretch of territory along the Turkish border.

Turkey launched an unprecedented cross-border offensive into Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield,” last week, saying it was aimed at ridding the frontier of both Islamic State group jihadists and Kurdish militia to prevent U.S.-backed Kurdish militia fighters from seizing more territory along the Turkish border.

Ankara fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian would bolster the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.

Syrian Kurds have established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan (northern Syria) in 2013. On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan.

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