Turkey Denies Blocking Retreat of Kurdish Forces in Syria: Official

Istanbul, Oct 19 (AFP/APP): Turkey on Saturday denied Kurdish forces’ claim that Ankara is blocking their pullout from a proposed safe zone along the border under a US-brokered agreement.

“YPG is disseminating false information to sabotage the Turkey-US agreement,” a senior official told AFP, referring to Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) deemed by Ankara as a terrorist group linked to outlawed Kurdish militants in Turkey. “By spreading fake news, YPG terrorists are challenging President (Donald) Trump,” the official said.

The commander of Kurdish forces in Syria, Mazloum Abdi, earlier Saturday accused Ankara of sabotaging the agreement with Washington by blocking the withdrawal of his forces from a flashpoint border town in northeastern Syria.

The Turkish official said Ankara was in coordination with Washington about the pullout. “We are on the same page with the United States,” he said. “The Turkish military provided detailed information, including coordinates, with the United States to facilitate the YPG’s withdrawal.”

Turkey has agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and to end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw, after talks with US Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned that if this deal fails, Turkey would “crush the heads” of Kurdish forces.
The Turkish official said Ankara was sticking to the agreement.

“Turkey is 100% behind the deal,” he said.  “President Erdogan and President Trump showed real leadership to make this deal happen. It’s bizarre to think that we’d violate an agreement that we like.”

Ankara says the YPG is a “terrorist” offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

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