Dilemma for the United States as Turkey attempts Kurdish squeeze

Ankara began "Operation Olive Branch" on Saturday with troops and Syrian rebels moving into north-west Syria's Afrin, an enclave of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın criticized European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini's for her remarks on Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria, saying it exposed the double standards against Turkey's counterterrorism efforts.

"Whether it is Manbij, Afrin, the east of the Euphrates or even threats from northern Iraq, it doesn't matter", he said.

The U.N. estimates some 323,000 people are in Afrin and surrounding Kurdish-controlled areas, almost half of whom already fled from other parts of Syria.

"The operation is being conducted against terrorist elements in the Afrin region".

"Although some slowdown is expected in Turkey's fourth quarter growth outlook for 2017, we have seen that strong growth momentum is continuing".

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Turkey's relations with Europe have soured as well, to the point that four countries have now formally declared themselves against Ankara's accession to the EU. The YPG are a key ally of the United States in Syria, much to Turkey's fury.

A Turkish operation in Manbij would be fraught with risk due to the presence of the USA military personnel in and around the town. It would also meet United States objectives, since Washington has labeled the PKK a terrorist organization.

Trump was scheduled to call Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday to express concern, officials said, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert spoke out for Afrin.

Unlike Afrin, where no USA forces are stationed, there are some 2,000 USA military personnel deployed in the eastern region of Manbij, which extends for 400km along Turkey's border.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says reports of the Syrian government using chlorine gas against civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus are "are yet another demonstration of its blatant disregard for worldwide law and cruel indifference for the lives of its own people". "We have full confidence", he added.

The UN said it was ready to deliver aid to 50,000 people in Afrin if required.

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Turkey's president says its incursion into a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria is progressing "successfully" and will continue until the last "terrorist" is eliminated.

Turkey said three of its soldiers had been killed.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish YPG a terror group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.

France and the United States on Tuesday urged Turkey to exercise restraint in its offensive against a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria, where the U.N. says an estimated 5,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.

The US backs the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militarily, led by the YPG, and whose target is primarily IS and other Islamist fundamentalist groups involved in the civil war. "If the USA doesn't stop this, we will stop it", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuolu was quoted as saying yesterday.

Ankara argues the USA has no business arming and training a group that its ally Turkey considers a terror organization and an enemy.

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Bad weather, including heavy rain, has hampered Turkey's offensive.


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