Trump, Erdogan agree to act jointly against ISIS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump have agreed to act jointly against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump have agreed to act jointly against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa. PHOTO: EPA, REUTERS

WASHINGTON/ANKARA • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump have agreed to act jointly against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa, both controlled by the militants, Turkish presidential sources said yesterday.

In a phone call on Tuesday, the two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the refugee crisis and the fight against terror, the sources said. They also said Mr Erdogan had urged the US not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

Mr Trump spoke about the two countries' "shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms", and welcomed Turkey's contributions to the fight against ISIS, the White House said in a statement.

The offices of both leaders said Mr Trump had reiterated US support for Turkey "as a strategic partner and Nato ally".

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of US-backed militias, started a new phase of its campaign against ISIS in Raqqa last Saturday.

Turkey, which is part of the US-led coalition against ISIS, has repeatedly said it wants to be part of the operation to liberate Raqqa but does not want the YPG, which is part of the SDF alliance, to be involved.

Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist organisation and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

The Turkish army and Syrian rebel groups it supports are meanwhile fighting ISIS in a separate campaign around al-Bab, north-east of the city of Aleppo.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Trump, Erdogan agree to act jointly against ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe