US, Turkey talk about Syria secure zone: Pentagon



U.S. President Donald Trump urged Erdogan on Wednesday to curtail the military operation in Syria, the White House said. Turkey considers the YPG an extension of outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting Ankara and a national security threat.

In Washington, the Pentagon said that it carefully tracked weapons provided to the YPG and would continue discussions with Turkey.

U.S. and Turkish military commanders have discussed the possibility of creating a "secure zone" along the border with Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday, amid rising tensions over Turkish intervention in the region.

The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a USA ally that drove the Islamic State group from much of northeastern Syria.

The official also denied that Trump had "expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey", as mentioned in the White House readout, saying Trump instead stressed that open criticism of the USA in Ankara was raising concerns in Washington.

However, a Turkish official said that Trump did not raise concerns about escalating violence in Afrin and the two Presidents had simply exchanged views on the operation.

Mr Bossert said it would be a "terrible outcome" if Turkish troops clashed with "the proxy forces that we have all been relying on to defeat ISIL, especially if there are USA advisers in the region".

Turkish-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army stand in the Tal Malid area, north of Aleppo, as they fire towards Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in the village of Um al-Hosh, in the area of Afrin, on January 20.

Erdogan seemed critical of Trump's comments and asked the United States to halt weapons support to the Kurdish YPG militias in Syria, Erdogan's office said. Statements provided by USA and Turkish officials following a Wednesday telephone conversation between Erdogan and Trump came as an indication of the deteriorating relations.

The officials provided the information on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

The U.S. has accused fellow Western military alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey of assisting the Islamic State militant group by bombing Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that Turkey is not going to discuss the issue of building a safe zone in Syria with the US until trust will be re-established between the two allies.

Gabriel said Berlin and Paris were committed "to stopping a further escalation, to allowing humanitarian access and protecting the civilian population". The Syrian Kurdish group is a main part of a USA -backed rebel alliance that has inflicted recent defeats on Islamic State militants.

Tillerson says: "No, we discussed a number of possible options but we didn't propose anything".

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, is briefed by a Turkish Army officer at the command center at the command center in Hatay province, Turkey at the border with Syria, Thursday.

State media also reported the attack, saying it had been repelled. Gen. James Jarrard praised the SDF and said 400 SDF fighters were killed and more than 900 were injured in the retaking of the city.

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