Turkey will not intervene in Tel Rifaat if Russia keeps promise on YPG: Presidential spokesman
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on April 7 that Turkey was talking to Russia about the Syrian town of Tel Rifaat and would not need to intervene in the area given Moscow’s assurances that Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants were not present there.
Kalın told foreign reporters in Istanbul that intervention by Turkey would not be necessary in Tel Rifaat, since there was no YPG presence there now.
“At the moment, for Tel Rifaat we are talking to the Russians, and they have assured us the YPG is not there,” Kalın was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“If that’s the case, we are OK with that,” he added.
Kalın also in his remarks criticized the United States for sending what he said were mixed messages on Syria, noting Washington was sowing confusion by equivocating about its future role in the country.
“The president of the United States says ‘We’re going to get out of Syria very soon’ and then others say, ‘No, we are staying,’” Kalın said, referring to recent comments from U.S. President Donald Trump and other officials.
“Obviously it does create a lot of confusion on the ground, as well as for us. We would like to see some clarity, for them to decide what the next step is, what the ultimate goal there is,” he added.
Trump said in a speech last month that he wanted an early exit of U.S. troops from Syria, a position that was seen as at odds with that of many other Washington officials.
Differences over Syria policy have strained relations between the U.S. and fellow NATO member Turkey. Washington has backed the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and in January launched a military operation in northern Syria’s Afrin region to drive out the YPG.