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Turkey tells US envoy to leave Kurdish militants in Syria

Turkey tells US envoy to leave Kurdish militants in Syria

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey told the United States on Tuesday that Kurdish militants should leave Syrian territory fully with increased violence in the opposition-controlled province of Idlib in northern Syria.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said
In a statement that Minister Khulosi Akar made the call during talks with US Special Representative to Syria James Jeffrey in Ankara on Tuesday.

The ministry also said Akar expressed Ankara’s displeasure with Kurdish militants in the area.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on Tuesday resumed its air strikes on militants in Idlib, following air and artillery bombardment by pro-Syrian forces against the opposition, apparently in a massive attack on the last major opposition stronghold.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly pledged to restore “every inch” of Syria, which means controlling both Idlib and Kurdish-dominated areas in the northeast.

Turkey has been angered by Washington’s support for the Kurdish people’s protection units in Syria. Turkey sees the units as an extension of the PKK, which has waged a rebellion in southeastern Turkey since 1984 and is classified by the United States, Turkey and Europe as a terrorist group.

Turkish forces launched two cross-border operations against Syrian people’s protection units.
The US embassy in Ankara said Jeffrey expressed Washington’s position that any attack in Idlib would endanger the lives of civilians and the chances of a political settlement of the Syrian war. “It will increase support for terrorism and damage regional stability,” she said on Twitter.

A dispute between Ankara and Washington over the fate of a US priest tried by Turkey on charges of terrorism denied by the pastor. The widening dispute has pushed the Turkish currency lira to fall more than 40 percent this year.

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