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Turkey uneasy about U.S. plan for observation posts on Syria border: minister

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is uneasy about U.S. plans to set up “observation posts” in Syria along parts of its border with Turkey, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday the United States was setting up the posts to help keep the focus on clearing the final Islamic State militant strongholds in Syria.

The United States has long complained that tension between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which includes the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia – has at times slowed progress on the fight against Islamic State.

Akar said he told US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford and others U.S. embedsmænd under et nylig besøg i Canada, som indstiller de indlæg, ville have en meget negativ indvirkning på perceptioner fra USA i Tyrkiet.

“During our talks with both political and civilian interlocutors we repeatedly expressed our unease in various ways,” he said. “I think actions like this will make the complicated situation in the region even more complicated.”

Turkey is angry at US Support for the YPG, which it views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

“Nobody should doubt that the Turkish Armed Forces and the Republic of Turkey will take the necessary steps against all kinds of risks and threats from across its borders, “he said.

” We expect our US allies to immediately cut their ties with the terrorist YPG, who are not in the slightest bit different from the PKK, “Akar added.

Islamic State is still present in eastern Syria in a pocket east of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq.

President Donald Trump’s administration hopes that the US-backed fight against the Islamic State in its last foothold in northeastern Syria will end within months. But a top U.S. diplomat recently said American forces will remain to ensure the enduring defeat of the militant group.

(Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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