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'Intensive' US-Turkey contact during Baghdadi raid: Ankara


AFP Istanbul
Turkey said Monday that its military and intelligence services had "intensive" contact with their American counterparts during the operation that led to the killing of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
US President Donald Trump announced Sunday that Baghdadi had been killed the previous night during a raid by US special forces in northwest Syria, a few kilometres from the Turkish border.
"Our military and our intelligence services were in contact with their American counterparts on this issue, they coordinated with each other," Turkish presidency spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
"We can say there was an intensive dialogue between our militaries during the night of the operation," Kalin told reporters in Ankara.
Kalin described Baghdadi's death as a "victory", adding that Ankara would continue its "effective fight" against IS's "deviant ideology".
He called IS "a plague, a cancer which has harmed Muslims most of all".
Turkey has previously been accused of letting jihadists cross its border to allow them to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war which has been raging in Syria for eight years.
After being rocked by several IS attacks in 2015 Turkey joined the anti-jihadist coalition.
But in recent weeks Turkey has been accused of undermining the fight against the remnants of IS with its offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, launched on October 9.
The YPG are the primary component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and undertook much of the ground combat against IS forces.
However, Turkey accuses the YPG of being a terrorist group just like IS.
Turkey says the YPG are offshoots of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
In his statement on Sunday Trump thanked both Turkey and Kurdish forces for their help in the operation but Kalin condemned the idea that Kurdish forces should get any credit.
"We see there is an effort to give credit to the YPG terror group in Syria as if they shared intelligence or supported (the US operation)," Kalin said, adding that this was "an effort to legitimise the YPG terror organisation".
"Efforts to absolve or dignify them are unacceptable for us," Kalin said.

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First Published: Oct 28 2019 | 7:40 PM IST

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