Angela Merkel has spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syria. The German chancellor highlighted the importance of exercising restraint as the US exits the conflict.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to discuss the situation in Syria.
Merkel told Erdogan that she expected Turkey to "exercise restraint and act responsibly," the Chancellery said in a statement.
The conversation comes as the US plan to withdraw some 2,000 troops backing mixed Kurdish and Arab forces in northeast Syria has plunged the region into uncertainty. After US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal, Turkey mobilized army units and its Syrian rebel allies to the border and near the Syrian city of Manbij.
This prompted the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) to sound the alarm and call for the Syrian army to enter the town in an apparent bid to ward off a Turkish offensive. US military officials say American troops remain in Manbij. Ankara considers the YPG as an extension of insurgents in Turkey and classifies them as a terrorist organization. The YPG is the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces waging war against the last pockets of the "Islamic State" (IS).
Russia, which backs the Syrian regime, has sought to decrease tensions and held a meeting in Moscow on Saturday, where high-ranking Turkish and Russian government officials agreed to coordinate their operations in Syria.
IS still a threat
Merkel acknowledged Turkey's role in taking in refugees from Syria, the German government statement said. Both leaders underlined the importance of a UN-led political process to put an end to the Syrian conflict.
Although IS has been pushed back, Erdogan and Merkel agreed that it still posed a significant threat.
The two leaders agreed to stay in close contact, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.
jcg/aw (dpa, AP)