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US urges Turkey, Kurds to stop escalation in northern Syria

February 20, 8:18 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Turkey has been recently shelling positions of Syrian Kurds who fight against terrorists on the side of Damascus
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© EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

WASHINGTON, February 20. /TASS/. US President Barack Obama held a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night and the US leader urged Erdogan to stop shelling Syrian territories, a statement from the White House said.

"President Obama expressed concern about recent Syrian regime advances in northwest Syria and urgently called for a halt to actions that heighten tensions with Turkey and with moderate opposition forces in northern Syria, and undermine our collective efforts in northern Syria to degrade and defeat ISIL," the statement said.

"President Obama stressed that YPG forces should not seek to exploit circumstances in this area to seize additional territory, and urged Turkey to show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area," the statement from the White House added.

The issue of Syria was also in the focus of the European Union’s summit in Brussels on Friday. Speaking after the summit, French President Francoise Hollande said Ankara should stop shelling Kurds in Syria as it may lead to obvious conflict with Russia and greater aggravations since Turkey is a member of NATO.

Turkey has been recently shelling positions of Syrian Kurds who fight against terrorists on the side of Damascus. Earlier in the week, Russia initiated a meeting of the United Nations Security Council over Ankara’s actions. Following their February 16 meeting, the United Nations Security Council members expressed concern over the actions of the Turkish authorities and agreed to urge Ankara to respect international law.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Turkey was planning to deploy its troops in Syria’s northern provinces, while Saudi Arabia sought deployment of its troops in the south.

The United States, according to the Financial Times, has been trying to keep Ankara and Riyadh from military activities in Syria as NATO is worried over the perspective of deploying Turkish troops in a country, where Russia is waging an Air Force military operation against terrorists.

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