US Defense Secretary Mattis admits some YPG militants are shifting to Afrin

US Defense Secretary Mattis admits some YPG militants are shifting to Afrin

US national security adviser H.R. McMaster held talks on Sunday in Istanbul with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman, the White House said, amid persistent tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over Syria and other issues, Reuters reports.

Turkish troops launched an air and ground offensive against YPG-held Afrin in northwestern Syria on January 20, as Ankara treats the Kurdish militants as terrorists associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The U.S. has long supported the SDF as a reliable ally in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), over the persistent objections of Ankara.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul that US forces are leaving "pockets" with IS militants intact to justify continued cooperation with the Kurdish militia.


Gen. McMaster, who led the USA delegation during the two-day diplomatic visit to Turkey, "discussed the priorities and concerns of both countries ... their common strategic challenges and regional developments" with İbrahim Kalın, spokesman and special adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a White House readout of the meeting released Sunday.

The two discussed the long-term strategic partnership between the United States and Turkey, the White House said in a statement.

Criticizing U.S. ties with the YPG/PKK terror group in Syria - the armed wing of the terrorist PYD/PKK - he said: "The U.S.is not touching Daesh members in Syria as an excuse to continue working with YPG/PKK terrorist group".

Relations between Turkey and the U.S., strained by American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, are close to breaking down, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday. Washington says Ankara has not provided enough evidence for the extradition. No dates have yet been confirmed for the Tillerson visit.

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