Cyprus closest to unification in 40 years, say Turkish Cypriot foreign minister

Turkey and the US will intensify operations aimed at flushing the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) back from part of the Turkish-Syrian border in the coming days, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioilu was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
andquotWe will not allow Daesh [ISIL] to continue its presence on our border,andquot Sinirlioilu was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu agency.
andquotWe have long continued air operations in that region with the United States … We have certain plans to terminate the Daesh presence on our border. Once these plans are finalized, our operations will intensify. You will see this in the coming days,andquot he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that his country would start an operation with Turkey to secure the northern Syrian border.
andquotThe entire border of northern Syria — 75 percent of it has now been shut off. And we are entering an operation with the Turks to shut off the other remaining 98 kilometers,andquot he said in an interview with CNN.
Neither Kerry nor Sinirlioilu gave any further details. Both the US and Turkey, which has the second largest army in the NATO military alliance, have so far ruled out sending any significant number of ground troops into northern Syria.
But they have for months been discussing a joint plan of intensified air strikes to drive ISIL from a strip of border territory just under 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, stretching west from the Syrian town of Jarablus on the banks of the Euphrates roughly to the town of Azaz.
They hope that by sweeping ISIL from this border zone in collaboration with Syrian opposition forces on the ground, they can deprive the group of a smuggling route which has seen its ranks swollen with foreign fighters and its coffers boosted by illicit trade.
h2 Kerry says cease-fire in Syria potentially weeks awayh2 A cease-fire between Syriaand’s government and the opposition could be just weeks away from reality, Kerry said on Tuesday when he visited Paris to show solidarity with France after last weekand’s attacks.
Speaking to reporters at the residence of the US ambassador to France, Kerry said the cease-fire envisioned by the political process agreed upon in Vienna on Saturday would exponentially help efforts to fight the ISIL group, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks that killed 129 people, as well as end the drawn-out Syrian conflict, which has gone on for over four years.
andquotThatand’s a gigantic step,andquot Kerry said. andquotIf we can get that done, that opens up the aperture for a whole bunch of things. Weand’re weeks away conceivably from the possibility of a big transition for Syria, and I donand’t think enough people necessarily notice that. But thatand’s the reality.andquot
andquotWe are not talking about months, we are talking about weeks hopefully,andquot Kerry added.
Saudi Arabia is expected to host a meeting of Syrian opposition figures by mid-December, at which they are to agree on a delegation to send to talks with representatives from President Bashar al-Assadand’s government. Once those negotiations begin, a cease-fire is to take effect, according to the agreement reached in Vienna.
Such a cease-fire would free nations supporting Syriaand’s various factions to concentrate more on ISIL, which is ineligible for the truce and has come under greater military scrutiny since Fridayand’s attacks in Paris.
andquotOut of this event in Paris will come an even greater level of vigilance and cooperation in some places that may have been a little bit less concerned about things hitting them in certain parts of the world,andquot Kerry said.
On Tuesday, Russia said its investigation into the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egyptand’s Sinai Peninsula had determined that it was brought down by a bomb. An ISIL affiliate had already claimed responsibility for downing the plane. Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to hunt down those responsible and punish them.
Kerry began his Tuesday in meetings with staffers at the US Embassy in Paris and with French President Franandcois Hollande.
With Hollande, Kerry said the civilized world must boost its efforts to combat ISIL by going after the group at its core. He said the plane downing, along with the recent attacks in Lebanon and Turkey, made it clear that more pressure must be brought to bear on the religious extremists.
andquotMy sense is everybody understands that with Lebanonand’s attacks, with whatand’s happened in Egypt, with Ankara, Turkey, and attacks in Paris, we have to step up our efforts to hit them at the core where theyand’re planning these things and also obviously to do more on borders in terms the movement of people,andquot he said.


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