US has removed troops from Syria: Turkey President

Ankara, Sep 19 (IANS) At least 27 men of the US Special Operations Forces were removed from northern Syria as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) does not want American interference, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

“The Free Syrian Army does not want interference from the US, because the behaviour of US officials heightened the problem to that level,” the President said prior to his departure for New York for the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, reports Xinhua news agency.

Washington announced last Friday that the deployment of some three dozen Special Operations Forces troops in northern Syria to work with Turkish troops in fighting the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Turkey sent tanks, warplanes and its Special Operations Forces into the region on August 24 in a launch of what it called Operation Euphrates Shield to fight both the IS and Syrian Kurdish militants.

The operation that offers support to the FSA on the ground is progressing well as of now, the President said.

Erdogan said that an area of 5,000 sq km in northern Syria should be “appraised as security zone” so that more Syrian refugees could return to their towns without fear of terror.

“Up to now 900 sq km of area have been cleared of terror elements as part of Turkey’s operation,” he said.

“We are heading further south…more Syrians will return when the area is cleared of terror elements,” he said.

Turkey is sheltering some three million Syrian refugees on its soil.

–IANS

sm/ksk/vt

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