US agrees to work on concluding Manbij roadmap promptly

By Sarp Ozer

WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. authorities accepted on working to avoid any delay on Manbij roadmap in northern Syria and to conclude it quickly, the Turkish defense minister said on Saturday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency following his meeting with Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in Pentagon, Hulusi Akara said they reminded the U.S. delegations at the meeting that there should be no authority gap during troops withdrawal from Syria.

Akar, together with Turkish Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler, arrived in Washington on Friday to discuss Syria and other bilateral and regional issues with the U.S. officials.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.

Turkey vowed to carry out a counterterror operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates, following two similar successful operations since 2016.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG/PYD is the group's Syrian branch.

  • FETO terror group

During the meeting, the Turkish delegation also mentioned the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the U.S.-based leader of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and other members of the terror group residing in the U.S. soil, Akar added.

He went on to say that Ankara “will follow the issue closely in upcoming days”.

FETO and its leader Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

According to Turkish officials, Ankara has requested Gulen's extradition from the U.S. several times.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, including the military, police and the judiciary.

US: We don’t want regime to come back to N. Syria

      By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>MUNICH (AA) - The U.S. doesn’t want the regime to control northeast Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a senior official said on Sunday. </p>  <p>Speaking at the Munich Security conference, James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, said Washington’s goals in northeast Syria have not changed.</p>  <p>“They involve first of all maintaining the security in that region, which means we are not at all in favor of the regime coming back in because the regime does not promote stability, it promotes instability as we have seen in other areas”, he said.</p>  <p>Jeffrey also said the U.S. will not make an abrupt and rapid withdrawal of its troops from northeast Syria.</p>  <p>“It is going to be an orderly, step-by-step withdrawal, and at each point, at each phase, we are going to look at our underlying goals,” he said. 

Turkey has long criticized the U.S. for backing the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria, which was controlled by the terrorist PKK/YPG group.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

US troops withdrawal to have serious outcome: Report

      By Ayhan Simsek </p> <p>BERLIN (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria will likely have “tremendous geopolitical consequences”, according to an annual report compiled by a global security forum. </p> <p>Trump’s decision would leave a vacuum in the region, and this is likely to be filled by powers including Russia, Turkey and Iran, experts predicted in the report released ahead of the 55th Munich Security Conference. </p> <p>The 101-page report, which included research by leading experts and think-tanks, underlined that with the recent developments on Syria, the European Union has seen its influence mostly sidelined. </p> <p>“This becomes particularly clear when looking at the fate of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold, which now depends largely on Turkey and Russia and their de-escalation agreement aiming to prevent a major military offensive against the town,” the report said. </p> <p>The report identified the Syrian civil war as one of most serious conflicts of 2019, based on an assessment by the International Crisis Group. </p> <p>It also warned of growing risk of confrontation involving Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Israel, and Iran.</p> <p>“The first three share a common view of the government in Tehran as a threat that has been emboldened for too long and whose regional aspirations need curbing. The risk of an accidental clash originating in Yemen, in the Persian Gulf, in Syria, or in Iraq cannot be discounted,” the report said. </p> <p>Munich Security Conference, the world’s most influential security forum, will be held in the southern German city of Munich between Feb. 15-17.</p> <p>More than 35 heads of government and state, around 50 foreign ministers and 30 defense ministers from all over the world will attend the conference. </p> <p>U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are among the participants.