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Turkey disputes White House readout of Erdogan-Trump phone call

Turkey disputes White House readout of Erdogan-Trump phone call

Promoted tweets from Turkish state media began showing up in users newsfeeds in the days following the start of the Syrian offensive on Saturday.

The YPG is the Pentagon's main partner in its fight against Daesh in Syria. "Don't know what the answer will be", the director of the USA military's joint staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon, calling it "a policy decision".

But, at least in their public statements, U.S. military officials have expressed their understanding of Ankara's domestic security concerns.

The U.S. has been arming, training, and supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, and the strongest element of that group is the YPG, a Kurdish group with ties to Kurds in Turkey, including the PKK.

Preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria is the common goal of Ankara and Damascus and the Turkish troops are not going to attack government forces in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, announced the move late on Wednesday as a Turkish military assault on the city of Afrin, in northwest Syria, continued for a fifth day.

"The operation during Mr. Obama's administration aimed to clear terrorists from Manbij. Starting in Manbij, we will continue to thwart their game", Erdogan said in a speech.

Syria's Kurds in the north of the country took advantage of the chaos in Syria, after the civil war broke out in 2011, to create a semi-autonomous state.

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Sharfan Darwish of the Manbij Military Council - a unit of the YPG Syrian-Kurd militia now under attack by Turkey in Afrin - said his forces were preparing to confront Turkish soldiers.

But Badran Jia Kurd, adviser to the Kurdish-led autonomous administration that runs parts of northern Syria, said it had not received a formal invitation to the Syria congress since it was confirmed to be taking place on January 29-30 in Sochi. Analysts have suggested that Russian Federation made a deal with Turkey to OK the current assault and withdraw troops, in response to Ankara's participation in the talks.

A message sent to journalists from an unnamed Turkish government official also refuted USA accounts.

On Tuesday, a high-level U.S. delegation visited Ankara to discuss the details of Turkey's operation in Afrin.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Turkey to exercise restraint, and ensure that its military operations in Afrin are limited in order to avoid civilian casualties.

The White House readout said, "President Trump also expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey".

"We have been preparing for a large scale response depending on the needs of the civilian population", said United Nations spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. He stressed that the United States now only partners with the YPG to combat Daesh on "the eastern flank of the Euphrates".

When asked in Davos about the safe zone, Tillerson said "we discussed a number of possible options but we didn't propose anything". However, the Turkish government equates the YPG with the PKK and treats them as a single organization and the PKK has indeed carried out large-scale attacks in inside Turkey.