Turkey's Erdogan says US abandonment of Syria allies, a 'positive' thing
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his approval on Monday of President Donald Trump's announcement that a thousand American troops would be withdrawn from Kurdish-controlled areas in Northern Syria immediately.
"This is a positive approach," Erdogan told reporters, when asked about Sunday's statement from US Pentagon chief Mark Esper delineating Washington’s retreat.
It is now the sixth day of the Turkish offensive against Kurdish militants, which has already taken control of key towns, such as Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, in the north of the country.
Erdogan alleged that his forces are pushing Kurdish forces back from key towns such as Manbij and will "re-administer" Kurdish land to the Syrian National Army (SNA), a group of Syrian Turkey-backed rebel groups.
"When Manbij is evacuated, we will not go in there as Turkey. Our Arab brothers, who are the real owners, the tribes... will return there. Our approach is to ensure their return and security there," he said.
The president also welcomed Putin's facilitation of the operation against the town of Kobani.
"There is a lot of gossip now, but it seems... there won't be any problem in Kobani with Russia's positive approach as of now," Erdogan said.
Turkey's relentless assault, which has seen air strikes, shelling and a ground incursion manned mainly by Syrian proxy fighters, has killed scores of civilians and fighters since its launch on Wednesday.
The Kurds say the US has betrayed them, their once formidable ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, and left to fend for themselves in the battle against Turkish forces.
The massively outgunned Kurds described their deal with the Syrian regime as a necessary step to halt the Turkish-Syrian assault.
"In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government... so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)," the Kurdish administration said in a statement.
It came after Syria's state news agency SANA said Damascus was sending troops to the north to "confront the Turkish aggression".
Erdogan said the aim of Operation Peace Spring was to establish a "security zone" that would extend 30 to 35 kilometres (20 to 25 miles) into Syria and run between the Kobane to Hasakeh, a stretch of 440 kilometres.