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Monday, February 8, 2016

"Se­nior US officials now call Turkey one of big­gest impediments to Syria resolution, effective ISIS campaign"

"Se­nior US officials now call Turkey one of biggest impediments to Syria resolution, effective ISIS campaign" (WSJ).

According to The Wall Street Journal’s Sunday report, Turkey has become one of the greatest impediments in trying to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict, as well as in trying to tackle Daesh in the most effective way possible.

Turkey’s growing hostility to one of America’s most effective allies in the fight against Islamic State—Syrian Kurdish fighters—is undermining efforts to step up the campaign against the extremist group, U.S. officials say.

The tensions, and the strains they have put on U.S.-Turkish relations, bubbled to the surface when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden flew to Istanbul late last month to talk with Turkish leaders about the campaign.

According to U.S. and Turkish officials involved in the talks, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his top advisers showed a specially prepared map of the Turkey-Syria border that identified several places where they said Syrian Kurdish militants had smuggled weapons meant to battle Islamic State into Turkey.

Over and over again, Turkish officials told their American counterparts, security forces had seized arms and ammunition being secretly diverted by U.S. allies in Syria to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, better known as the PKK—the militant force both countries classify as a terrorist group.
U.S. officials said they have checked out the complaints and found no evidence that any firepower provided directly by the American military to Kurdish fighters in Syria has turned up in Turkey.
Any other smuggling of weapons into Turkey is likely to be small, they added, given that the Syrian Kurds are focused on their fierce fight with Islamic State.

In the meetings with Mr. Biden, though, Turkish leaders made it clear that they found any arms smuggling unacceptable. After the meetings, Turkish officials told The Wall Street Journal that they were prepared to bomb America’s allies in Syria if the flow continues.

Several senior U.S. officials now say Turkey has become one of the biggest impediments to securing a political resolution to the five-year-old conflict in Syria—and to mounting the most effective military campaign against Islamic State.

The deepening feud comes as the U.S., Turkey, Russia and other world powers prepare to meet on Thursday in Munich to try to salvage stalled United Nations-backed Syrian peace talks. Read the full story here.

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