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Syria: U.S. welcomes pause in Turkish-Kurdish clashes


They were Turkey's first casualties since dispatching tanks and special forces units, backed by US and Turkish fighter jets, into Syria on Wednesday to oust the Islamic State militant group from the border town of Jarabulus. "We appreciate Turkey's continuing cooperation and look forward to our future partnership in the counter-ISIL fight", Votel said, using another acronym for ISIL.

After a weekend of Turkish clashes with YPG-allied forces, Washington expressed alarm and urged both sides to stop fighting each other and concentrate on combatting ISIL.

But a Turkish-backed Syrian rebel commander described it only as a "pause" in the fighting and said military operations would soon resume.

YPG-led forces moved west from the main Kurdish-controlled region in the northeast to fight Islamic State for the city of Manbij.

The clashes are of "deep concern", declared Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, adding that they were not coordinated with USA forces, "and we do not support them". The authorities have also gone as far as setting up a press centre for reporters covering the operation from Gaziantep in southern Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, said at least 40 civilians were killed in Turkish shelling and airstrikes on Sunday.

Turkey on Wednesday (Aug 31) denied agreeing to a US-brokered truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, saying it would not compromise with a "terrorist" group a week into an unprecedented cross-border offensive.

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Turkey's military incursion into Syria, launched last Wednesday, is targeting both Islamic State militants and Kurdish militia fighters.

In a speech Tuesday, Hollande said "multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a general inflammation" of the fighting that has devastated the country. France is part of the coalition.

"Ultimately, Syria could yet turn into a territorial extension of the protracted fighting between Turkey and the PKK going on since 1984", he said.

Lebanon has been hit by a wave of explosions over the past three years as Syria's civil war spilled over into its tiny neighbor.

Turkey's concerns about Kurdish expansion grew after the SDF drove the Islamic State from Manbij this month and then began pushing north toward Jarabulus.

Last week, Turkey sent its troops and warplanes to back Syrian rebels in their advance on Jarablus, a town near the Turkish border and the next IS-stronghold after Manbij. That prompted clashes between the two USA -allies - Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state since 1984.

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Shervan Darwish, a spokesman for the US -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 auto bombs.

"Our determination continues", Yildirim said. In a statement on Twitter, IS said they seized two villages in the area.

Over the past few days, Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military have clashed with Kurdish fighters inside Syria.

Turkish troops and the Syrian rebels they are backing are "aiming for our troops, not Daesh", Darwish added.

"Turkish government clearly says that they will stop this military operation if the YPG crosses the Euphrates River", Al Jazeera's Alelbarra said.

A day earlier, a Turkish soldier was killed in what Turkey said was a rocket attack by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG.

Turkey's aim was to drive Islamic State out of a 90 km (56 miles) stretch of Syrian territory running along the border, Kalin said.

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