Erdogan to tell Trump: US hasn’t met Syria ceasefire obligations

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech at the Turkish Military Academy in Ankara, Turkey January 24, 2019. — Cem Oksuz/Turkish Presidential Press Office picture via Reuters
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech at the Turkish Military Academy in Ankara, Turkey January 24, 2019. — Cem Oksuz/Turkish Presidential Press Office picture via Reuters

ANKARA, Nov 12 — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today he would tell US counterpart Donald Trump that Washington must do more to implement a ceasefire deal they agreed in order to halt Turkey’s offensive in Syria.

As he prepared to leave for Washington, Erdogan told reporters: “I will tell him, with the use of documents, that the agreement we reached on the operation has not been fully implemented.”

Turkey struck a deal with the United States on October 17 to suspend its military offensive in northern Syria, in return for Washington ensuring a pullout of Syrian Kurdish forces from a proposed “safe zone”.

Ankara concluded a separate deal with Russia a few days later under which Moscow agreed to ensure the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from adjacent areas. 

Turkey launched the offensive last month to push Kurdish militants back from its border and create room to repatriate Syrian refugees.

But Erdogan said Kurdish “terror groups” had still not left key towns, including Manbij, Tal Abyad, Qamishli and Tal Rifaat.

“Unfortunately, as of now it is not possible to say terror groups have withdrawn from the region,” he said. 

“Neither Russia nor the United States could remove terror groups within the given hour and the given day.” 

The Turkish leader said he would raise the issue with Trump, and after his return, with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone. 

Erdogan’s visit to Washington comes at a tense time in bilateral ties because of disputes over the Syrian conflict and the US House of Representatives recognising the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide.

But Erdogan said: “Despite the fog in our relations, we are in agreement... with Mr Trump to improve our relations.” — AFP

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