Turkey denies existence of a ceasefire with YPG-dominated SDF in Syria

RAGIP SOYLU @ragipsoylu
WASHINGTON
Published 30.08.2016 22:15
Updated 30.08.2016 22:25

A senior Turkish military official denied that Turkey and the U.S. reached a "loose" agreement to stop fighting between Turkish forces and YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"We are not aware of such an agreement. If the U.S. announced such a thing that means they are trying to present terrorist organizations as formal parties as if we deal with them" the Turkish official said. Turkey says the SDF is largely controlled by the YPG -- the armed units of the PYD-- which is functioning as Syrian branch for internationally-designated terrorist organization the PKK.

Turkish officials say they don't recognize the SDF as a legitimate counterpart either. "We believe the U.S. officials slammed them to stop firing at us. Now they try to propagate this as a ceasefire," the official added.

Earlier on Tuesday, a U.S. defense official told AFP that US received assurance that all parties involved are going to stop shooting each other and focus on DAESH.

However, Turkey says its operations in Syria's Jarablus and beyond are depending on how YPG forces would behave. A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said that Turkey expects YPG forces to retreat to eastern side of the river Euphrates and stated that U.S. officials statements on Turkey's intentions were 'unacceptable'.

Another Turkish official told Daily Sabah that U.S. was supposed to move YPG forces back to east side of the river as of last week. "YPG forces didn't leave. They attacked a Turkish tank with anti-tank weapons and even uploaded the video on the web. How should we have reacted? Shouldn't we defend ourselves against a terrorist organization that attack us? We won't open channel of communication with these people. They are terrorists" the official said.

Turkey-backed forces Monday seized the territory around river Sajur and pushed SDF further south. Turkish state run news agency Anadolu, referencing the anonymous Turkish officials, said last week that river Sajur was a redline for SDF forces who were cleaning Manbij from explosives. Instead, YPG spearheaded forces moved beyond the river and occupied a number of towns, including the strategically important village of Ammare. Several Turkish media reports interpreted SDF's offensive among the reasons that provoked Turkey's Jarablus operation.

As of today, Turkey-backed forces seem to be focusing on the west of Jarablus where DAESH forces are holding the last bit of territory along the Turkish border. The Sultan Murad Brigade, a Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) component, said on its official Twitter account that an offensive against DAESH territory was underway.

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