ISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Syrian conflict, following Ankara’s incursion into the war-torn state last week (all times local):
A senior U.S. military commander says the United States has made it clear to all of its partners fighting the Islamic State — including Turkey and the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters — that they must keep their focus on IS and stop fighting each other.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that he is working to prevent such clashes.
In recent days, Turkish forces have attacked Syrian Kurds aligned with the U.S., saying they had failed to move east of the Euphrates Rivers. Votel said the Kurds have now lived up to their commitment to move east, suggesting the threat perceived by the Turks has been alleviated.
Kurdish officials are saying that Syrian Kurdish fighters and the Turkish military have agreed on a temporary cease-fire in the volatile northern Syrian region, near the town of Jarablus.
Shervan Darwish, a spokesman for a branch of the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, says the Jarablus branch of the SDF agreed to the cease-fire with the Turkish military on Tuesday.
There was no immediate confirmation from Turkey.
Polat Can, a Kurdish representative to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said on Twitter that the U.S.-led coalition would oversee the cease-fire with the Jarablus Military Council.
He described the agreement as “provisional.”
The U.S. is backing both Kurdish fighters and Turkey in the multilayered Syrian war, even as the two sides have exchanged fire inside northern Syria over the past three days.
Pressure is building for the United Nations to condemn Syria over the use of chemical weapons in the country’s civil war, now in its sixth year.
The Security Council is set to discuss on Tuesday a report by weapons inspectors that found the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons on at least two occasions and is suspected of deploying them in at least three other instances.
Human Rights Watch, in a statement, called on the Security Council to impose sanctions on the Syrian government over the chemical weapons’ use and to refer the case to the International Criminal Court.
The report also found that the Islamic State group, which is already under U.N. sanctions, was behind at least one chemical attack.
A spokesman for Kurdish-led forces in Syria is reporting clashes between the fighters and Islamic State militants near the northern town of Manbij, which was until recently held by the extremist group.
Shervan Darwish, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces, says the militants carried out a two-pronged attack on villages south and west of Manbij, using at least three car bombs.
Darwish says the militants took advantage of clashes between Kurdish-led forces and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels advancing from north of Manbij. The Kurdish-led forces, aided by airstrikes from the U.S-led coalition, repelled the attack initially but Darwish says clashes continued on Tuesday.
The Kurdish-led forces seized Manbij from IS earlier this month after a 10-week campaign.
Turkey then sent its troops, aiding Syrian rebels to move in on the next IS-held town, across it borders, prompting clashes between the two U.S.-allies and raising concerns they would distract from the fight against IS.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman has called on the U.S. to “revise” its policy of supporting Kurdish forces battling Turkish troops in Syria after Ankara’s incursion last week into the war-torn state.
The comments by Ibrahim Kalin published on Tuesday by the pro-government Daily Sabah came a day after the U.S. urged Turkish troops and Kurdish forces in northern Syria to halt their fighting, saying it hinders efforts to defeat the Islamic State group.
Kalin says that the “Americans should revise their policy of supporting (the Kurdish-led force) at all costs.”
The battle in northern Syria now pits U.S. ally Turkey against the Kurdish-led force — a U.S.-backed proxy that is the most effective ground force battling IS militants in Syria’s 5-year-old civil war.
French President Francois Hollande has criticized Turkey’s “contradictory” military intervention in Syria and warned Russia not to become a “protagonist” in the war.
Hollande, in a diplomatic speech Tuesday, said “multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a general inflammation” of the fighting that has devastated the country.
He said he could understand Turkey’s concern about protecting its borders and fighting the Islamic State group, but criticized actions against Kurdish rebels allied with the U.S.-led coalition against the extremists. France is part of that coalition.
Hollande called for cooperation with Russia and said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to France in October, saying Russia should be “a player in negotiations, not a protagonist in the action.”
Hollande said “the absolute urgency is a halt to fighting and a return to negotiations.”