Erdogan criticizes Russian Federation, says Turkey to decide future of Syria's Afrin

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The White House said yesterday Mr Trump had spoken to the Turkish leader about his concerns and they had agreed to stay in "close contact".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Turkey was anxious by the "arm wrestling" of world powers over Syria, as tensions soared between Washington and Moscow after threats of possible United States air strikes.

Trump also blamed Moscow for being partners with "a gas killing animal", referring to Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad.

Erdoğan also underlined that Turkey does not intend to give up on its alliance with the USA, its strategic relations with Russian Federation on a range of fields from energy to security or working together with Iran to solve regional problems.

Both the presidents spoke "to discuss the current crisis in Syria", it said.

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"If an attack occurs against the forces [in Syria] backed by Russian Federation or there is an attack by the USA -supported forces, Russian Federation won't be able to stay away, otherwise it will lose its influence". If there's any Russian (or Iranian or North Korean) dense enough to still keep assets in these United States, maybe they don't really care about them.

Turkey itself is in the midst of a military operation in northern Syria, where it is battling Kurdish forces allied to the US.

He added that the use of Turkey's air bases during the potential strike against the regime will be discussed with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will arrive in Ankara on an official visit Monday.

In an interview Tuesday night ahead of Trump's series of tweets-which insisted that poor relations between Russia and the USA are largely due to special counsel Robert Mueller's collusion probe-Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin warned that any us missiles fired at Syria will be "downed" along with "the sources from which the missiles were fired".

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and remaining Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.

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