Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Turkey warns US against arming 'terrorist' YPG rebels in Syria

Turkey warns US against arming 'terrorist' YPG rebels in Syria

Turkey slammed the Trump administration's decision to supply Syrian Kurdish fighters with weapons against the Islamic State group and demanded Wednesday that it be reversed, heightening tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies days before the Turkish leader heads to Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump. The group was designated a terrorist organization not only by Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, but also by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the European Union and the United States.

Turkey slammed the U.S. decision to arm the Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers terrorists but which Washington sees as an indispensable ally in the fight against IS.

He spoke during a joint news conference with the visiting president of Sierra Leone.

Cavusoglu said Trump would address the issue with Trump during his planned May 16-17 visit to Washington, suggesting there were no plans to call off the talks in protest. We hope the USA administration will put a stop to this wrong and turn back away from it.

"We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the United States is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".

Fikri Isik also told private NTV television on Wednesday that Turkey has the power to defend its national interests in Syria, though he did not elaborate.

Conflicting approaches to Kurdish militias in the global fight against the IS has caused tensions between Turkey and the West.

The main Kurdish force in Syria says it will seek "neighborly relations" with Turkey, which views it as a terrorist organization.

Raqqa is the latest major city targeted by coalition forces in their attempts to rid Iraq and Syria of the extremist group.

Clashes between the YPG and Turkish-backed rebels from the Free Syrian Army have intensified since Ankara's 2016 military intervention in northern Syria.

The alliance between Washington and the Syrian Kurds started in 2014 at the battle for Kobane, a symbolic city in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, which was besieged by Islamic State.

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These have taken on a more visible role, often aimed at keeping Turkey and the Kurds from battling each other and focused instead on the fight against IS. "Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States".

Earlier this month, Sheikh Ali Daamoush, a senior Hezbollah official, warned the US against "trying to regain a presence in the region" via direct intervention in Syria and Iraq, and setting up bases there.

Its warplanes have targeted YPG fighters with air strikes.

Turkey's deputy Prime Minister denounced the decision as "unacceptable" and said it "amounts to support to a terror organization".

The YPG said Washington's decision would bring swift results and help the militia "play a stronger, more influential and more decisive role in combating terrorism".

Seeking to allay Turkish concerns, US -led anti-Daesh coalition spokesman told reporters in Washington that the coalition would make sure the weapons to be provided "are pointed at ISIS".

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Trump has authorized equipping "Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS" in Raqqa.

Erdogan's statement capped a day of alarmed comments by Turkish officials, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying that "every weapon that turns up in their hands is a threat directed toward Turkey".

"Every single one" of the weapons will be accounted for, and the USA will "assure they are pointed at ISIS", Dorrian said, using an alternate acronym for IS.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim meanwhile told reporters that Turkey can not accept "direct or indirect" support for the PKK, and that the USA should not try to use one terrorist group to defeat another.

With air strikes and special forces from the USA -led coalition, the SDF have been advancing on Raqqa, Islamic State's base of operations in Syria, to isolate and ultimately seize the city. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, and closely linked to an ethnic Kurdish separatist group that has fought a three decade insurgency against their state, the PKK or the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

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