Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Erdogan MOCKS Trump, saying he 'can't keep track' of the President's tweets about Turkey's Syria invasion after dismissing US economic sanctions as nothing to worry about

Turkish President Erdogan has mocked Donald Trump - saying he can no longer 'keep track' of his counterpart's tweets on Syria. 
'When we take a look at Mr Trump's Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them,' Erdogan told reporters as he returned from a summit where he vowed to continue with his assault in defiance of US sanctions and calls for a ceasefire.  
America has been scrambling to regain the initiative after Trump unexpectedly agreed to withdraw US troops from Syria during a phone call with Erdogan, and handed over control of regional security to Turkey.
Intense fighting continued Wednesday around the border towns of Tel Abaid and Ras al-Ayn, while Russian and Syrian government troops - which took control of Manbij on Tuesday - moved up to the outskirts of Kobane, another key crossing point. 

Vice President Mike Pence has been sent to Turkey alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to try and straighten out relations between the two NATO allies, and were due to arrive Thursday.
Trump's own thinking on Syria has been anything but clear, as he penned often contradictory tweets praising his decision to withdraw, then boasting about bipartisan support for sanctions against Turkey for moving in. 
Fighting intensifies during conflict in Ras al-Ain
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Turkish President Erdogan mocked Donald Trump on Wednesday saying he cannot 'keep track' of his US counterpart's views on Syria, as the invasion entered its eighth day (pictured)
Turkish President Erdogan mocked Donald Trump on Wednesday saying he cannot 'keep track' of his US counterpart's views on Syria, as the invasion entered its eighth day (pictured)
Erdogan also vowed to press ahead with his attacks in northern Syria. Pictured is a member of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army during fighting in Ras al-Ayn
Erdogan also vowed to press ahead with his attacks in northern Syria. Pictured is a member of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army during fighting in Ras al-Ayn
Turkey's invasion of northern Syria has now entered its eighth day, with heavy clashes reported around the city of Ras al-Ayn (pictured, Turkish-backed rebels around the city)
Turkey's invasion of northern Syria has now entered its eighth day, with heavy clashes reported around the city of Ras al-Ayn (pictured, Turkish-backed rebels around the city)
Turkey is fighting to regain complete control over Ra al-Ayn, on the Syrian border, after it initially seized the city then lost parts of it to a Kurdish counter-attack
Turkey is fighting to regain complete control over Ra al-Ayn, on the Syrian border, after it initially seized the city then lost parts of it to a Kurdish counter-attack
Erdogan vowed to press ahead with his attack despite calls for a ceasefire and said he isn't worried about US sanctions against Turkey (pictured, rocket artillery attacks Ras al-Ayn)
Erdogan vowed to press ahead with his attack despite calls for a ceasefire and said he isn't worried about US sanctions against Turkey (pictured, rocket artillery attacks Ras al-Ayn) 
Donald Trump
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Trump has repeatedly suggested over the past week that it is a good thing Turkey is taking over from the US in Syria, while also boasting about sanctioning the country over its role
Russia has so far proved the most effective peacekeeper in Syria, after brokering a deal between the Kurds and Syrian government forces that has seen Assad's troops move to the front line (red arrows). Putin has also positioned his troops between Turkey and government forces around Manbij, stopping an anticipated attack
Russia has so far proved the most effective peacekeeper in Syria, after brokering a deal between the Kurds and Syrian government forces that has seen Assad's troops move to the front line (red arrows). Putin has also positioned his troops between Turkey and government forces around Manbij, stopping an anticipated attack
He has also welcomed the arrival of Russian and Syrian government forces to protect the Kurds, despite describing them as 'our enemy'.
And, in an abrupt reversal of relations, he has amplified Turkish claims that Kurdish militias are terrorists who have been deliberately releasing ISIS members from prison - despite being allied with the Kurds as recently as a week ago.
In one typically contradictory tweet, Trump announced: 'Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!'
Turkey's foreign minister said Wednesday that the country will retaliate against US sanctions with measures of its own, but did not specify what these would be.
Mevlut Cavusoglu told parliament that the current US position towards Turkey is at a 'critical juncture' and urged Congress to turn back from its 'damaging approach'.
He added that he will convey the message to an American delegation including Mike Pence, when he arrives on Thursday. 
In his interview with the Turkish journalists, Erdogan also shared an anecdote from his telephone call with Trump this week.
'I told Trump: "You get very angry with the media from time to time. You are now under their influence. Don't listen to them, you are a strong leader. This does not befit a strong leader",' he said.
So far Russia has proved the only effective peacekeeper, after negotiating a defence pact between the Kurds - America's former allies - and the Syrian government.
Vladimir Putin has also ordered Russian troops to stand between Turkish and Syrian forces around the city of Manbij, halting an anticipated attack on the city.  
Erdogan claims Syria offensive aims to 'eliminate terrorist groups'
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Turkey's attack began after Donald Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from the region, but Washington has since called for a ceasefire (pictured, Turkish tanks near Manbij)
Turkey's attack began after Donald Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from the region, but Washington has since called for a ceasefire (pictured, Turkish tanks near Manbij)
In one typically contradictory tweet, Trump amplified Turkish state claims that the Kurds are releasing ISIS prisoners, raised the prospect of war with Turkey, then vowed 'never ending wars will end'
In one typically contradictory tweet, Trump amplified Turkish state claims that the Kurds are releasing ISIS prisoners, raised the prospect of war with Turkey, then vowed 'never ending wars will end' 
Trump has also repeatedly pushed the idea that the US should have nothing to do with Syria, while also saying 'we are watching the situation closely'
Trump has also repeatedly pushed the idea that the US should have nothing to do with Syria, while also saying 'we are watching the situation closely'
The President also claimed there is 'great consensus' on sanctions against Turkey for attacking the Kurds, despite effectively green-lighting the invasion himself
The President also claimed there is 'great consensus' on sanctions against Turkey for attacking the Kurds, despite effectively green-lighting the invasion himself
Trump also tweeted about a Kurdish military operation which he claimed happened in Syria, when in fact it took place in Kirkuk, which is in neighbouring Iraq
Trump also tweeted about a Kurdish military operation which he claimed happened in Syria, when in fact it took place in Kirkuk, which is in neighbouring Iraq
A member of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group backed by Turkey, fires his weapon during fighting around Ras al-Ayn
A member of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group backed by Turkey, fires his weapon during fighting around Ras al-Ayn
Even as Erdogan vowed to keep Pence and Pompeo waiting for a meeting with him, the Kremlin announced a summit between the Turkish leader and Vladimir Putin, scheduled to take place in the coming days.
Moscow said the meeting was to ensure the Turkish operation does not turn into all-out war between Erdogan and Assad's forces. 
Earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan vowed to defy calls from Washington to stop the violence, vowing: 'We will never declare a ceasefire.' 
He added: 'They [America] are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about sanctions.'
Russia's presence did not completely prevent the bloodshed, with Erdogan blaming Syrian government forces for a mortar attack which killed one of his soldiers.   
Reuters journalists accompanied Syrian government forces who entered the centre of Manbij, a flashpoint where U.S. troops had previously conducted joint patrols with Turkey.
Russian and Syrian flags were flying from a building on the city outskirts and from a convoy of military vehicles.
Russia's Interfax news agency, citing Moscow's Defence Ministry, said later that Syrian forces had taken control of an area of more than 1,000 square km (386 miles) around Manbij, including Tabqa military airfield.
Fighting continues in earnest elsewhere including in the city of Ras al-Ayn, which saw heavy bombardment by Turkish forces Tuesday after Kurds recaptured part of the border crossing during a counter-attack. 
U.S. President Donald Trump's unexpected decision to withhold protection from Syria's Kurds after a phone call with Erdogan a week ago swiftly upended five years of U.S. policy on Syria.
Turkish FM says US sanctions and threats are 'unacceptable'
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Kurdish forces say hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of children, have been displaced by fighting along the border
Kurdish forces say hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of children, have been displaced by fighting along the border
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels load their weapons as they take a break between battles in villages surrounding Ras al-Ayn
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels load their weapons as they take a break between battles in villages surrounding Ras al-Ayn
A transport carrying members of the Free Syrian Army close to the city of Ras al-Ayn
A transport carrying members of the Free Syrian Army close to the city of Ras al-Ayn
Free Syrian Army units, allied to Turkey, drive armoured vehicles around the city of Ras al-Ayn
Free Syrian Army units, allied to Turkey, drive armoured vehicles around the city of Ras al-Ayn
As well as clearing the way for the Turkish incursion, the U.S. withdrawal gives a free hand to Washington's adversaries in the world's deadliest ongoing war, namely Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.
The Syrian army deployments into Kurdish-held territory amount to a victory for Assad and Russia, giving them a foothold in the biggest remaining swathe of Syria that had been beyond their grasp through much of its eight-year-old war.
The United States announced on Sunday it was withdrawing its entire force of 1,000 troops from northern Syria. Its former Kurdish allies immediately forged a new alliance with Assad's government, inviting the army into towns across their territory.
A Reuters cameraman on the Turkish frontier reported heavy bombardment on Tuesday morning of the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain, where an SDF spokesman reported a battle going on.
U.S. military aircraft carried out a 'show of force' around the town of Kobani after Turkish-backed fighters came close to American forces, a U.S. official told Reuters. The Turkish-backed fighters dispersed after the show of force, the official said.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will meet Erdogan on Thursday in Ankara.
Members of Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, a militant group active in parts of northwest Syria, load up with supplies in the Turkish town of Akcakale
Members of Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, a militant group active in parts of northwest Syria, load up with supplies in the Turkish town of Akcakale
The Free Syrian Army, units of the government army that defected during the civil war and are now loyal to Turkey, load up with supplies
The Free Syrian Army, units of the government army that defected during the civil war and are now loyal to Turkey, load up with supplies
The Free Syrian Army is now facing off against their former comrades in Manbij, after government forces moved up to defend the city (pictured, a re-supply run in Turkey)
The Free Syrian Army is now facing off against their former comrades in Manbij, after government forces moved up to defend the city (pictured, a re-supply run in Turkey)
This picture taken on October 15, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn
This picture taken on October 15, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn
Ras al-Ayn has seen the majority of the fighting so far, after Turkey seized control of the city but was partially pushed back by a Kurdish counter-attack
Ras al-Ayn has seen the majority of the fighting so far, after Turkey seized control of the city but was partially pushed back by a Kurdish counter-attack
'Vice President Pence will reiterate President Trump's commitment to maintain punishing economic sanctions on Turkey until a resolution is reached,' the White House said in a statement.
After Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, U.S. prosecutors hit Turkey with charges on the majority state-owned Halkbank for taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.
A Turkish embassy official in Washington said the indictment did not contribute positively to the current state of U.S.-Turkey ties. Turkish and American officials had been in talks on the Halkbank case for at least a year. 
A senior Trump administration official said Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a ceasefire and halt its offensive.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a loyal Trump supporter who has nevertheless been highly critical of the president's troop withdrawal, said he would introduce a bill on Thursday to impose tougher sanctions on Turkey.
The measures announced on Monday - mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks - were less robust than financial markets had anticipated, and Trump's critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact.
Russian military enter Manbij region and 'stop' Turkish advance
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