US Syria envoy signals fight against Daesh may end soon, despite ongoing support for YPG

Published 16.11.2018 00:00
Updated 16.11.2018 00:10

U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey said on Wednesday that the U.S. administration hopes that the fight against Daesh, in its last foothold in northeastern Syria, will end within months, while the U.S. continues to support and maintain a partnership with the PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

"The fight is continuing, and we hope that it will be over in a few months and that will be the last of ISIS' [Daesh] terrain that it holds in a quasi-conventional way," Jeffrey said.

As the fight against Daesh has declined as an imminent threat, the U.S. has been continuing its cooperation with the YPG describing it as "efficient in the fight against Daesh." Yet Ankara assiduously criticized that the fight against Daesh cannot be used as a convenient alibi for supporting a terror group.

Turkey has repeatedly slammed the U.S. for delivering weapons and military equipment to the YPG and its decision to perform joint patrols with the terrorist group. To date the U.S. has sent 4,700 heavy weapons and armored vehicles to the YPG.

In an effort to assuage the concerns of Turkey, Washington reached the Manbij agreement in June with Ankara that focuses on the withdrawal of YPG terrorists from the northern Syrian city of Manbij to stabilize the region.

Since implementing the deal has been sluggish, Turkey called on the U.S. to take the necessary steps to accelerate the efforts.

In accordance with the Manbij agreement, Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols on Nov. 1. Since June 18, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has carried out 68 unilateral patrols in Manbij. The third round of joint patrols was conducted yesterday.

Commenting on the future steps of the U.S. regarding the situation on the ground in Syria, Jeffrey said that U.S. forces will continue to remain there following the defeat of Daesh.

"The enduring defeat means not simply smashing the last of ISIS' [Daesh] conventional military units holding terrain, but ensuring that ISIS doesn't immediately come back in sleeper cells, come back as an insurgent movement," he stated, adding that U.S. forces would remain in place after the coalition forces prevail over Daesh to ensure the group does not "regenerate itself."

He stressed that the U.S. believes the way forward in Syria includes defeating the Islamic State (another name for the Daesh terror group), reinvigorating the political process and winding down the long-running civil war. Jeffrey added that the U.S. hopes to see the formation of a committee before the end of the year to work on a new constitution for Syria as agreed by the leaders of Turkey, Russia, Germany and France during their meeting in Istanbul in October.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the quartet summit hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In a joint statement, the four leaders expressed their determination to reject separatist agendas aiming to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. It was underlined in the summit that it was crucial to reach a permanent ceasefire in the Idlib region as well. It was also emphasized in the summit that efforts will be accelerated for the political process, stressing that free and fair elections should be held for the Syrian people to decide on their future.

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