President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Russia and the United States of not fully driving Kurdish fighters from northern Syria while also announcing the capture of slain terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s child.
Erdogan said Kurdish PKK fighters, considered terrorists by Ankara, continued attacking Syrian soldiers, killing 11 in a firefight Thursday. Turkey wants to repatriate Syrian refugees to a safe zone along the Syrian border, and an agreement with the United States and Russia calls for Kurdish fighters to be cleared from the area.
“It has been well over 150 hours since we signed a deal with Russia but terrorists are still in the region and continue to attack Syrian National Army soldiers,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan spoke Thursday at a news conference before he left for an official visit to Hungary.
President Donald Trump confirmed that he and Erdgoan had a “good very good call” and that the Turkish leader will visit the White House on Nov. 13.
“He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict — including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al-Baghdadi,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Also talked about the border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics.”
Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey in retaliation for the brutal offensive the Turks launched against U.S. Kurdish allies after Trump removed troops from the region. He later rescinded the sanctions after Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached a cease-fire agreement.
Also on Thursday, Erdogan said a DNA test confirmed that one of the people captured along with al-Baghdadi’s wife is his child. All the relatives of the terrorist leader will be sent to repatriation centers where they will be interrogated.
Earlier this week, Turkish forces captured al-Baghdadi’s older sister, her husband and daughter-in-law and five children in Syria. Then, on Tuesday, Erdogan announced that al-Baghdadi’s wife and other family members were captured.