Ankara: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed Friday to “more effective coordination” between their countries’ operations in Syria, according to Turkish presidential sources, after Ankara threatened to launch a new offensive in the war-torn nation.
The two leaders spoke by telephone and “agreed to ensure more effective cooperation on the subject of Syria”, according to the source.
The conversation came after Erdogan on Wednesday warned Turkey was planning to launch a new operation within the “next few days” against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria.
Ankara views the YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is considered a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
But the YPG has spearheaded the United States’ fight against the Islamic State group under the banner of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.
During their phone call, Erdogan shared with Trump “Turkey’s legitimate security concerns caused by the presence and actions of the terrorist organisation PKK/PYD/YPG”, the source said.
Earlier on Friday at a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan said he is “determined to bring peace and security to areas east of the Euphrates” River in Syria’s north.
Washington’s support of the Kurdish militia has strained relations with Turkey over the past couple of years.
American forces are with the SDF east of the Euphrates as well as in the flashpoint city of Manbij, which is west of the river.
Erdogan has urged the US to drive the YPG out of the city.
“Here is what we say: either you clean the city and (the YPG) leave, or we’re going into Manbij as well,” he warned.