In call, Trump issues stern warning to Turkey over Syria operation


President Trump urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to scale back its assault on Kurdish positions in Syria, signaling mounting American anxiety that Ankara’s latest military foray will jeopardize the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State and undermine hopes for peace talks aimed at ending the war in Syria.

Roji Kurd: In a call, Trump told Erdogan that the intensifying conflict in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria “risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria,” according to a White House statement that described the two leaders’ conversation in pointed terms.

Trump relayed concerns that escalating violence in Afrin, Syria, risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria.  He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.  He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces. He reiterated that both nations must focus all parties on the shared goal of achieving the lasting defeat of ISIS.  And both Presidents welcomed the return of more than 100,000 Syrian refugees back to their country in the wake of the ongoing defeat of ISIS and pledged to continue to cooperate to help people return home.

Trump “urged Turkey to de-escalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees,” the statement said.

Trump invited closer bilateral cooperation to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.  The leaders discussed the need to stabilize a unified Syria that poses no threats to its neighbors, including Turkey.  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.  The two leaders pledged to improve the strategic partnership between the United States and Turkey, particularly in fostering regional stability and combating terrorism in all its forms, including ISIS, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), al-Qa’ida, and Iranian-sponsored terrorism.