Turkey holds security meeting over developments in Syria

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım chaired a security meeting on Aug. 9 with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkci, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.

There was no statement made after the meeting but the agenda was expected to focus on the fight against terrorism and developments in northern Syria.

The Turkish military has recently been building up presence near the Syrian border and in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, which serves as a military base for the Turkish army within the Euphrates Shield operation.

Turkish officials haven’t confirmed any military offensive into the Kurdish-controlled town of Afrin in northwestern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), but media reports say there can be another operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the YPG.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed concerns about the U.S.’s arms delivery to the YPG, which dominates the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the Raqqa offensive because of the group’s links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., but Washington believes the YPG is the most effective fighting force against ISIL in Syria, thus causing tensions between the NATO allies.

Another source of concern for Ankara is the latest tensions in Idlib, near the Turkish border, where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a faction led by the formerly al Qaeda-affiliated group earlier known as the al-Nusra Front, has taken control of.

Ankara is concerned of an imminent threat that can be posed by al-Nusra elements against Turkey and of a possible influx of refugees.

Turkish authorities closed the Cilvegözü border gate, along its border with Syria and across the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants took control over the region.

August/09/2017

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