Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call overnight to act jointly against Daesh in the Syrian towns of Al-Bab and Raqqa, which are under the control of the militant group.
Citing Turkish sources, Reuters reported that the two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the refugee crisis and the fight against terror. They also said Erdogan had urged the United States not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.
Trump spoke about the two countries’ “shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms” and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the fight against Daesh, the White House said in a statement, but it gave no further details.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of US-backed militias, started a new phase of its campaign against Daesh in Raqqa on Saturday.
Turkey, a NATO ally and part of the US-led coalition against Daesh, has repeatedly said it wants to be part of the operation to liberate Raqqa but does not want the YPG to be involved.
Erdogan’s relations with former US President Barack Obama were strained by US support for the YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.
The offices of both leaders said Trump had reiterated US support for Turkey “as a strategic partner and NATO ally” during the phone call yesterday.
The Turkish sources said new CIA Director Mike Pompeo would visit Turkey tomorrow to discuss the YPG, and battling the network of US based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating last July’s coup attempt.