UN to cooperate with Turkey on Syria operation

Turkish forces

The United Nations is prepared for “very close” coordination with Turkey on a possible operation in Syria, the U.N. assistant secretary general said Monday.

Panos Moumtzis, who is also the regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said that Ankara has provided the necessary guarantees to the U.N. on humanitarian issues related to the operation.

The White House said Sunday that the U.S. military will withdraw from northern Syria as Turkey will soon launch a “long-planned” military operation into the area east of Euphrates against the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) terror group.

The statement came hours after a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, during which a November meeting was planned, according to Turkish presidential sources.

President Erdoğan confirmed Monday that U.S. troop withdrawal from northern Syria has begun.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.

US started withdrawing troops from Syria, Erdoğan says

The U.S. military has begun the process of withdrawal from Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his two-day visit to Serbia, Erdoğan said U.S. troops started withdrawing from northern Syria.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops started taking place after Erdoğan’s phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Sunday.

Erdoğan noted that both sides continue to keep in touch regarding the matter, as he underlined Turkey’s determination to carry out the planned cross-border operation targeting terrorists.

Regarding the claims about 10,000 Daesh terrorists in the area, Erdoğan said the number is “exaggerated” by the media.

“The number of Daesh prisoners has been a bit exaggerated. The U.S. is working to decide how to handle them,” he said.

The president also said he will pay an official visit to Washington in the first half of November, but did not give a specific date for the visit.

“Having a face-to-face meeting will give us the opportunity to discuss the depth of the operation, Turkey-U.S. relations and developments in the region,” Erdoğan said, adding that they will also discuss the stalled F-35 fighter jet program.

Turkey rid a 4,000-square-kilometer (1,544-square-mile) area in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria – Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch – to purge the region of terrorist groups Daesh and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization.

However, a number of liberated cities – including Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz and Afrin – remain subject to sporadic terrorist attacks from Tal Rifaat.

U.S. and Turkish troops have carried out three joint ground patrols for the safe zone since Sept. 9.