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US senator says further involvement in Syria could land Turkey in ‘quagmire’

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Turkey could find itself in a quagmire if it deepens its involvement in Syria’s multi-sided civil war, a US senator said on Wednesday after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last Friday, Reuters reported.

Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters on a visit to Baghdad that Turkey should support a continued US presence in Syria.

Turkey has launched two military incursions into northern Syria in the last two years, driving back Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters.

Ankara is outraged by US support for the YPG, which it considers the Syrian extension of  the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has threatened further operations against the militia across northern Syria, including in the town of Manbij, where US troops are stationed alongside YPG fighters.

“I tried to make the case that you want America in Syria because the outcomes of us leaving are not good,” Graham said after meeting Erdoğan in Turkey on a regional tour that also included northern Syria and Iraq.

“You don’t want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you’ll get yourself in a quagmire,” he added.

Last month Washington and Ankara endorsed a tentative deal in which the YPG would withdraw from Manbij while Turkish and US forces would jointly maintain security and stability. Turkey says its forces and the US military are now carrying coordinated but separate patrols there.

Keeping YPG fighters east of the Euphrates River, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Manbij, “should be sufficient,” Graham said.

Turkish officials did not immediately respond to his comments.

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