Turkey sends special forces into northern Iraq

KONFRONTASI-Turkey deployed special forces in northern Iraq on Wednesday in an operation against Kurdish rebels backed by air and artillery support as the conflict continues to escalate.

Warplanes struck more than 150 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq's Haftanin region, 15km (9 miles) from the Turkish border, the defence ministry said. It was the second such operation launched against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in recent days.

Turkey's Erdogan makes surprise visit to Tunisia to discuss Libya

KONFRONTASI-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with his Tunisian counterpart, Kais Saied, during a surprise visit to the Tunisian capital to discuss developments in neighbouring Libya.

Speaking during a joint news conference, Erdogan told reporters that they discussed ways of establishing a ceasefire and bringing warring factions back to the negotiating table.

Erdogan says Turkey captured al-Baghdadi's wife

KONFRONTASI-Turkey captured a wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its president said on Wednesday, more than a week after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) leader killed himself during a raid by US special forces.

Al-Baghdadi was known to have four wives, the maximum number one can have under Islamic law at one time.

"The United States said Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel. They started a communication campaign about this," said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey, Kurds trade accusations as Syria truce largely holds

KONFRONTASI-A fragile ceasefire was largely holding along Turkey's border with Syria on Saturday, but clashes were reported between Turkish-allied forces and Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain.

The two sides accused each other of violating the US-brokered truce, two days after Turkey agreed to give Kurdish forces 120 hours to pull back from the Turkish-Syrian border to allow Ankara to form a so-called "safe zone".

Trump national security adviser jets to Turkey in bid to halt assault

KONFRONTASI- U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser flew to Turkey on Wednesday as part of an emergency delegation to try to persuade Ankara to halt an assault on northern Syria that has forced Washington into an abrupt retreat.

Robert O’Brien, who has been national security adviser for a month, was due to meet Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, ahead of talks the following day between Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey detains four Kurdish mayors in dawn raids

KONFRONTASI-The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) mayors of the Kurdish-majority districts of Hakkari, Yuksekova, Ercis and Nusaybin, near Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, were held over terrorism links, the HDP and Anadolu news agency said, without elaborating.

President Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links.

U.N. urges Turkey to investigate executions in Syria

KONFRONTASI- Turkey could be deemed responsible for summary executions by an affiliated armed group of captured Kurdish fighters and a politician, acts that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The U.N. human rights office also said it had documented civilian casualties caused by air strikes, ground-based strikes and sniper fire each day since the Turkish offensive began in northeastern Syria nearly a week ago.

Erdogan signals Manbij as next target in Turkey's Syria operation

KONFRONTASI-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shrugged off concerns over a Syrian army deployment along the border, as he indicated that Turkey's offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria will intensify.

Syrian army troops deployed to the northern town of Tabqa, near Raqqa, and entered the northeast town of Tel Tamer, state media reported on Monday, after Damascus reached an agreement with the Kurdish-led forces in the region to deploy into the area.

But Erdogan said he does not expect there will be problems, citing the "positive approach" of Russia, the main military ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We are coordinating with the Russians," Erdogan said. "There is a lot of gossip now, but it seems ... there won't be any problem in Kobani with Russia's positive approach as of now."

Turkey is in the sixth day of its offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. It says it has seized control of two key towns, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, although there are reports of ongoing fighting in the latter.

"We are about to implement our decision on Manbij," he said. Speaking to reporters before travelling to Azerbaijanon Monday, Erdogan said he expected Kurdish forces to withdraw from other key towns such as Manbij.

"When Manbij is evacuated, we will not go in there as Turkey. Our Arab brothers, who are the real owners, the tribes ... will return there. Our approach is to ensure their return and security there." 

Erdogan also welcomed the announcement by the United States that it was pulling out 1,000 troops from northern Syria.

"This is a positive approach," he told reporters when asked about Sunday's statement from US Pentagon Chief Mark Esper.

As options narrow on Syria, Trump prepares to drop sanctions hammer on Turkey

KONFRONTASI-President Donald Trump’s administration is set to impose economic sanctions on Ankara, potentially as early as this week, for its incursion into northern Syria, one of the few levers the United States still has over NATO-ally Turkey.

Using the U.S. military to stop the Turkish offensive on U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters was never an option, defense officials have said, and Trump asked the Pentagon on Sunday to begin a “deliberate” withdrawal of all U.S. troops from northern Syria.

Turkey leader rebuffs Arab, EU criticism over Syria operation

KONFRONTASI-Turkey's leader angrily rejected international criticism of its attack on Kurdish fighters in Syria on the second day of the operation, which world powers fear could further destabilise the already-volatile Middle East.

Taking aim at the European Union and Arab powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have voiced opposition to the military action, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said those objecting to Turkey's actions were "not honest".

Erdogan also threatened to send the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey to Europe if European countries labelled the offensive in Syria as an "invasion".

"We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way," Erdogan warned.

He also blasted regional rivals for their criticism of the military action. "They are not honest, they just make up words," Erdogan said, singling out Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

"We, however, take action and that is the difference between us," he told officials from his ruling AK Party in Ankara.

Erdogan said President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi could not condemn Turkey because Egypt under his rule was a "murderer of democracy".

'Bad idea'

Turkey's operation began days after a pullback by US forces from the border, and senior American officials have blasted US President Donald Trump for abandoning Syrian Kurds, loyal allies of Washington in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) in Syria.

Trump called the Turkish assault a "bad idea" and said he did not endorse it. He said he expected Turkey to protect civilians and religious minorities and prevent a humanitarian crisis - as Turkey has said it would.

Turkey's military action against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria is aimed at restoring the region's demographic structure and sending Syrians back to their own homes, Erdogan said, adding "109 terrorists have been killed so far" in the operation.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss Syria at the request of the five European members, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland.

In a letter to the 15-member Council, Turkey said its military operation would be "proportionate, measured and responsible".

The 22-member Arab League said it would hold an emergency meeting on Saturday.