USA says unlikely Turkey used chemical weapons

"Having an alliance doesn't mean you don't have issues between allies", Mr. Mattis told reporters over the weekend, just days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. -Turkey relationship is "at a bit of a crisis point".

Turkish government officials denied the use of chemical weapons.

"We demanded this structure be removed from SDF", he said.

Birusk Hasaka, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin, told Reuters that Turkish bombardment hit a village in the northwest of the region, near the Turkish border. Tillerson said particular attention will be focused on the Syrian town of Manbij, where US forces are deployed with the Syrian Kurdish militia.

The incursion has created an unprecedented military face-off between the two largest armies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with US forces fighting alongside the YPG in northeastern Syria while Turkey attacks members of the group to the west.

New tunnels used by terrorist group PYD/PKK for protection against air strikes and artillery shelling in Afrin, northwestern Syria have been found.

Earlier the YPG units were reported to have reached an agreement with the Syrian authorities for the Syrian army to enter Afrin to help halt Turkish attacks.

In a photo distributed by the Turkish presidency before the start of the more than three-hour meeting, the two are shown shaking hands, although only Tillerson was smiling.

A source from the US-armed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday said they had begun negotiations with the Syrian government to allow its troops to enter Afrin and defend against a Turkish offensive. We're going to lock arms.

This is while U.S. officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

From the beginning of Turkey's counter-terrorist operation in Afrin, "We saw suppression from the PYD/PKK terrorist organization", Abdullah said, adding: "We refused to fight, and fled Jindires".

In May 2017, Macron said he had set a "red line" at the use of chemical weapons.

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in Northern Afrin countryside, Syria, February 16, 2018.

"We continue to have serious concerns about the detention of local employees of our mission in Turkey and about cases against USA citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency", he said.

  • Jon Douglas