Turkey’s president has slammed the US for its support of Kurdish forces fighting the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) in Syria. US troops were photographed wearing the insignia of a militia that Ankara considers a terrorist group.
“The support they give to… the YPG (militia)… I condemn it,” Erdogan said in a speech he delivered in the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkey’s southeast.
“Those who are our friends, who are with us in NATO, should not and cannot send their soldiers to Syria wearing YPG insignia.”
US commandos in Syria were this week photographed wearing YPG patches on their uniforms. Keen to avoid a rift with Turkey, a US military spokesman said Friday that American troops were not authorized to wear the emblems and had been ordered to remove them.
Ankara regards the Syrian YPG as a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish government for more than three decades.
“The PKK, the PYD, the YPG, Daesh (Islamic State), there is no difference. They are all terrorists,” Erdogan said.
Washington also classifies the Turkish PKK as terrorists, but sees the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an advantageous ally in the fight against IS. Around 200 US special military personnel are in northern Syria helping local militia in an offensive to push IS out of Raqqa province, home to the group’s de facto capital.
Despite disagreements over the role of the YPG, the US State Department said NATO ally Turkey remained a close partner in the fight against IS.
nm/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)