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U.S. Senators urge al-Abadi to talk with Kurdistan’s Regional Government

- US Senators urge al Abadi to talk with Kurds USA Iraq KAR - U.S. Senators urge al-Abadi to talk with Kurdistan’s Regional Government


nsnbc : Eight U.S.-American senators from both major parties have urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to refrain from military solutions and to accept an offer from the leadership of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to freeze the results of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region’s (KAR) independence referendum on September 25, in return for open dialog between Baghdad and Erbil.

In a letter styled to the office of Iraqi PM al-Abadi the eight senators said they are troubled by the use of Americans weapons against the Kurds and other minorities when clashes erupted since October 16 following the Kurdistan Autonomous Region’s independence referendum on September 25. The senators, six Republican and two Democrats, including Senator Marco Rubio (R) and Tim Kaine, the candidate of the Democratic Party for Vice President in the 2016 presidential elections, said that while they supported a united Iraq, they also supported a strong Kurdish government, too.

The letter dated November 2 read “We write to emphasize our support for a united, federal and democratic Iraq and urge you [PM Abadi] to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to de-escalate this dangerous situation that is no one’s interest.”  The senators also say they recognize that the “unilateral” Kurdish referendum held by the KRG on September 25 had put Baghdad in a “difficult position” and risked to shift focus on the war on ISIS, but they are also “mindful” of the Kurdish support these past years, in particular to the war against ISIS. “We continue to support a strong and autonomous KRG within a unified and federal Iraq,” the senators said.

The statement argued that the vote on independence even divided the Kurdish opinion, and therefore was a contributing factor behind the resignation of Masoud Barzani from his post as president late last month. The KRG having realized the “unintended” consequences of the vote, it has offered to freeze the results of the vote in exchange for talks with Baghdad under the Iraqi constitution, the letter said, calling on PM Abadi to accept this offer.

The Kurdish Peshmerga have accused the Iraqi forces, and their mainly Shiite, Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, of having used American-supplied weapons in the fight that took place between the two sides, including Abrams tanks. The Peshmerga stated they destroyed two such tanks.  “Having invested considerable resources to equip and train the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces], we are deeply troubled at the prospect of American-supplied arms being used against Kurds or other minority communities.” the letter continued.

US Senators urge al-Abadi to talk with Kurds_USA_Iraq_Abrams tank with Hezbollah flag  - US Senators urge al Abadi to talk with Kurds USA Iraq Abrams tank with Hezbollah flag 300x178 - U.S. Senators urge al-Abadi to talk with Kurdistan’s Regional Government

The senators urge Baghdad to avoid unilateral or uncoordinated military movements in the disputed areas, and to help bring about “constitutional solutions” to the outstanding issues including a joint mechanism in the disputed areas. On Wednesday, several US congressmen including war veterans gathered in front of the Capitol and strongly criticized the presence of Iran-backed militias within the Iraqi Interior Ministry and call for more US State Department and White House support for Kurds. US Rep. Duncan Hunter, while holding up a photo of what he believes were Shiite militias on a US tank:

“A picture is worth 1,000 words. There’s the M1 Abrams tank with a Hezbollah flag. I don’t care what the State Department says, they can’t argue with this. At the best, the State Department has been derelict in its duties. … At worse they’ve been complicit.” 

Many of congressmen and advisors who took turns talking on Wednesday emphasized that the State Department policy does not match how they see the facts on the ground. “We are equipping and training the wrong people. It’s time we rose above what the State Department has screwed up over and over. Iraq was a military victory lost by politics in the State Department… The State Department is going to lose us Iraq again in one of the worst ways,” added Duncan.

F/AK – nsnbc 03.11.2017

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SOHR Reveals Latest Statistics of Casualties in Afrin

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The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) revealed the latest statistics of the casualties in Afrin.

According to SOHR report released on Monday, January 22th, the number of casualties has risen to 21 due to the Turkish bombardments on Afrin.

“War has started in Shingal, Edmani, Shadiya, Sorka,Hamam, Kurdo which are located in Afrin, among the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which is the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Tukish army.

The Media sources belonging to PKK pointed out that 7 civilians were found dead, and 11 others wounded under the devastated buildings in the village of Jilbar due to the Turkish attacks on Afrin.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northern Syria, under the name of “Olive Branch Operation”.
 
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to eliminate every single YPG fighter in Syria. Meanwhile, PKK had already given orders to have immediate reactions if the Turkish army attempts to attack Afrin.





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Turkey says campaign against Kurdish YPG in Afrin will be swift – Middle East

- 413711 - Turkey says campaign against Kurdish YPG in Afrin will be swift – Middle East


Turkish soldiers are seen near the town of Hassa on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

HASSA, Turkey – Turkey shelled targets in northern Syria on Monday and said its three-day-old operation against Kurdish YPG fighters who control the Afrin region would be completed swiftly.

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies began their push to clear YPG fighters from the northwestern enclave on Saturday, opening a new front in Syria’s civil war despite calls for restraint from United States, which has armed the YPG.

YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka said clashes between Kurdish and Turkey-backed forces persisted on the third day of the operation. He said Turkish shelling had hit civilian areas in the northeast of the Afrin region.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organisation with ties to Kurdish militant separatists within Turkey, and it has been infuriated by US support for the fighters. Washington, which is backing the YPG in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, said on Sunday it was concerned about the situation.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to crush the YPG in Afrin and then target the Kurdish-held town of Manbij to the east, part of a much larger swath of northern Syria controlled by YPG-dominated forces.

That raises the prospect of protracted conflict between Turkey and its allied Free Syrian Army factions on one side and on the other the Kurdish YPG, who spearheaded the US-backed campaign to drive Islamic State out of its Syrian strongholds last year.

But Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy prime minister who oversees economic affairs in the government, played down the potential for a damaging and drawn-out military campaign.

“Our investors should be at ease, the impact will be limited, the operation will be brief and it will reduce the terror risk to Turkey in the period ahead,” Simsek said at a ceremony in Ankara.

TURKISH SHELLING

A Reuters cameraman near Hassa, across the border from Afrin, saw Turkish shelling on Monday morning. Dogan news agency said Turkish howitzers opened fire at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT) against YPG targets.

It said militia targets were also being destroyed by Turkish warplanes and multiple rocket launchers.

On Sunday a Turkish official said Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines. The YPG said it had repelled the Turkish forces.

Turkey’s military operation to drive back Islamic State and YPG fighters, which it launched in August 2016 and named “Euphrates Shield”, lasted seven months. So far there has been no indication of major gains on the ground by Turkey-backed forces in Afrin.





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Turkey gave advance warning of Afrin attack, urges restraint

- Jimmattis342 - Turkey gave advance warning of Afrin attack, urges restraint


WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – On Sunday, as he flew to Indonesia, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters traveling with him that Turkey “warned us” before its assault began on Saturday on the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria.

Mattis explained that US military officials received a phone call from Turkish military officials and that the communication was at a high level. However, he did not reveal the US response to the Turkish notification, including whether it cautioned against an attack.

Mattis spoke sympathetically of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish group that leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and constitutes the majority of its troops. The SDF has been America’s main ally in fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“They have proven their effectiveness,” Mattis said. “It has cost them thousands of casualties, but you have watched them, with coalition support, shred [IS’] caliphate in Syria.”

However, he also expressed sympathy with Ankara’s position.

“Turkey is a NATO ally,” Mattis stated. “It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns.”

Some 2,000 US troops are deployed in Syria, but they are east of Afrin and not threatened by the Turkish offensive “at this time,” the Defense Secretary said.

US officials are in ongoing contact with their Turkish counterparts. “Our top levels are engaged,” Mattis affirmed. “We’ll work this out.”

Also on Sunday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement explaining that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the day before.

Tillerson emphasized to his counterparts that the US “is very concerned about the situation in northwest Syria, especially the plight of innocent civilians who are now faced with an escalation in fighting.”

“We continue to be supportive of addressing the legitimate security concerns of Turkey as a NATO Ally and critical partner in the effort to defeat [IS],” Nauert’s statement continued.

“However, we urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” she added. And “we call on all parties to remain focused on the central goal of defeating [IS.]”

Russia has taken Turkey’s side in this crisis. Lavrov complained on Friday that the US is “creating alternative government bodies on a vast part of Syrian territory,” while Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday said that the US was responsible for the Turkish assault because of its “uncontrolled deliveries of modern weapons” to the YPG.

An emergency session of the UN Security Council, convened at France’s request, will be held later on Monday.

Editing by Nadia Riva



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