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Turkey warns France against supporting Kurdish YPG militants

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

Turkey has warned France against supporting US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw American troops from the war-ravaged Arab country.

“If France is staying to contribute to Syria's future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militants), this will bring no benefit to anyone,” Turkish-language Hurriyet daily newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying on Tuesday.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Cavusoglu further noted that Ankara has “the power to neutralize Daesh alone” amid speculations that the US exit from Syria would influence the military campaign against the Takfiri terrorist group.

The top Turkish diplomat then criticized French “support” of the YPG, which he said was "no secret."

He also slammed French officials' meetings with senior officials from the political wing of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has YPG as its backbone, in Paris last week.

Cavusoglu said the US withdrawal “should not serve the YPG's separatist agenda.”

The Turkish President and leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures to his supporters during his party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, Turkey, on December 25, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that a Turkish delegation would head to Moscow “today or tomorrow” to discuss the planned US troops pullout from Syria.

Erdogan added he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for face-to-face talks about the issue.

‘Turkey’s preparation for operation in east of Euphrates going as planned’

Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said preparations for a military operation campaign in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River against Kurdish YPG militants are proceeding as planned.

“Everything has been planned and programmed. Everything is going according to it [the plan] and in line with the schedule,” Akar told reporters ahead of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

He noted that talks will be held with US officials within the next few days on a roadmap for Manbij.

“Work on the Manbij roadmap is continuing intensively,” Akar pointed out.

He said Turkish military officials are in contact with their US counterparts, adding that further information on the roadmap’s timetable will be released once it is finalized.

The northern Syrian town of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, has been a major bone of contention between Ankara and Washington. 

Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal reached with the United States in June, which would see the YPG ousted from the town and moved back to the eastern bank of the river.

Over the past few days, the Turkish military has been sending reinforcements to frontline areas with YPG militants in northern Syria. 

The Turkish military, with support from allied militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has launched two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch”, against the YPG and Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

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