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Biden says Turkish military actions in Syria undermine fight against ISIL

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US President Joe Biden has accused Turkey of weakening the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and undermining stability through its military actions in northern Syria, in a letter he sent to the speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Biden sent the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to notify her about his intention to extend the national emergency with relation to Syria.

“The situation in and in relation to Syria, and in particular the actions by the Government of Turkey to conduct a military offensive into northeast Syria, undermines the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, endangers civilians, and further threatens to undermine the peace, security, and stability in the region, and continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Biden said in his letter.

Turkey has carried out three cross-border operations in Syria against ISIL as well as US-backed Kurdish militia and has frequently used factions of armed Syrian fighters on top of its own forces.

Some of these groups have been accused by human rights groups and the United Nations of indiscriminately attacking civilians and carrying out kidnappings and lootings. The United Nations had asked Ankara to rein in these Syrian rebels, while Turkey rejected the allegations, calling them “baseless.”

“Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13894 with respect to the situation in and in relation to Syria,” Biden added in his letter.

Turkey has also been accused of arming terrorist groups to fight back against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

Last month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he felt that relations with his US counterpart Biden had “not gotten off to a good start” with the latter’s arrival in the White House.

He said had “worked well” with previous US presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

“But I cannot say things have gotten off to a good start with Biden.”

Relations between the US and Turkey, two NATO allies, took a nosedive after Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system that the US believes can be used to spy on Western defenses. Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency for the purchase last year. It also expelled Turkey from the F-35 program under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet’s parts and secure its early purchasing rights.

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