Turkey, US can turn Raqa into 'graveyard' for IS: Erdogan

Turkey, US can turn Raqa into 'graveyard' for IS: Erdogan

Just days after 20 Kurdish fighters assisting United States troops were killed by a Turkish airstrike, Trump has sent armed vehicles to the same location.

USA armored vehicles are deploying in areas in northern Syria along the tense border with Turkey, a few days after a Turkish airstrike that killed 20 US -backed Kurdish fighters, a Syrian war monitor and Kurdish activists said Friday.

The Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) are seen by Washington as the most effective fighting force in the battle against jihadists in Syria.

Since Turkey's attack on Kurdish targets in both Syria and Iraq earlier this week, cross-border fire between the Turkish military and Syria's Kurdish YPG has been a near-constant reality along Turkey's south-east, with the military reporting 11 Kurdish "terrorists" killed again today.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, did not dispute that US troops are operating with elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) along the Turkish border, but he would not get into specifics.

In April 25 airstrikes against PKK terrorists, meant to prevent the group from sending terrorists, arms, ammunition, and explosives to Turkey, 40 terrorists were killed at Iraq's Mt. Sinjar, and another 49 at Syria's Mt. Karacok, including four high-ranking terrorists, said a General Staff statement.

Erdogan also told a conference in Istanbul that United States support for Kurdish militia fighters inside Syria was damaging solidarity between Washington and Ankara, but that relations could turn a page under President Donald Trump.

On Saturday, more USA troops in armored vehicles arrived in Kurdish areas, passing through the town of Qamishli, close to the border with Turkey.

Erdogan says he is "seriously concerned to see USA flags in a convoy that has YPG rags on it", referring to the YPG's banner.

If Erdogan were a true US ally, then instead of dropping bombs on the headquarters of the YPG, which now hosts more than 1,000 USA military personnel, Turkey would seek to destroy al-Qaida, which has set up bases in Idlib, right along the Turkish border.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said the Syrian Democratic Forces' control of Tabqa was "practically total".

Ultimately Washington "will likely view relations with Turkey - a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and critical ally - as more important to its broader strategic interests", it said. Syrian government forces backed by Russian Federation also operate in the area.

The PKK is a USA -designated Marxist terrorist organization.

Erdogan expressed regret that the US-YPG alliance -which began under former president Barack Obama- was being continued under the new US administration.

"We are seriously concerned to see USA flags in a convoy that has YPG rags on it", Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying prior to him departing on a flight to India on Sunday.

Turkey, however, has remained hostile to the Kurdish People's Protection Units, which form the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

"We hope that this military mobilization is not meant to provoke our forces or for another goal linked to entering Syrian territories".

Khalil said his forces are not building up in the area and added that the global coalition is now "monitoring" the border.

As well as citing the Diyarbakir attack, the official said the weapons had been used in other attacks on security forces across Turkey.

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