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(Oct 9): Turkey said its military will cross the border with northeast Syria “shortly”, aiming to push back Kurdish militants days after the US said it wouldn’t stand in the way.

Troops supported by the Free Syrian Army intend to launch the offensive together, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said in a tweet.

The lira lost ground after Altun’s tweet and was trading 0.2% weakener at 5.8391 per dollar at 3:52 a.m. in Istanbul.

The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly. YPG militants have two options: They can defect or we will have stop them from disrupting our counter-ISIS efforts. https://t.co/vQByIUQHQB
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) October 8, 2019

In a dramatic reversal of US policy, Donald Trump told Erdogan in a phone call on Sunday that dozens of American troops who’d been working closely with Kurdish-led forces in the fight against Islamic State would pull back, effectively clearly the way for a Turkish advance.

The White House statement appeared to surprise allies at home and abroad. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they would fight to defend their “own people”, potentially relegating the battle against Islamic State.

A number of Trump allies, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said the move was “a shot in the arm for the bad guys.” Analysts said a U.S. pullback could ultimately play into the hands of Russia, whose military intervention helped turn the tide of the Syrian civil war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s Kurdish militant YPG group has been a US partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria and has tens of thousands of captured militants and their families in its custody in camps and detention centers in northeastern Syria. The US has said Turkey would be responsible for those detainees but it was not clear whether there was a mechanism in place to ensure they would not escape and regroup.

Turkey sees the YPG as a threat due to its link to the separatist PKK, another Kurdish group the Turkish government been battling for decades. It’s considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the European Union.

The YPG, currently holding northeastern Syrian towns near the Turkish border, must accept Ankara’s leadership in the anti-IS campaign or will be prevented from getting in the way, Altun said in an opinion piece he penned for the Washington Post.