Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin says it is Turkey’s “natural right” to ask the United States to halt any such moves by the terror groups in Syria.
Turkey expects the United States to stop “shifting” the PKK-linked YPG group from Manbij to Afrin in Syria, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters at the presidential complex in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Kalin said: “In this regard, Turkey took the necessary steps via official channels, and we will continue to take such steps.”
“It is particularly expected by Turkey that the US must certainly step in and halt the shifting of YPG forces, which move under its control, in Manbij to Afrin. This is our natural right.”
The US and the YPG terror group, which have been receiving American weapons and support, are stationed in Manbij; US forces there have resisted Turkey’s calls for them to leave.
On January 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
Turkey has also pledged to launch a military operation against the YPG/PKK in the strategically important city of Manbij that lies to the west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, as part of the ongoing operation.
Manbij lies northeast of Aleppo and just south of the Turkish border.
Washington has voiced concerns about the safety of US troops in Manbij amid Turkey’s operation in northeastern Syria. There are about 2,000 American soldiers in Manbij.
The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is responsible for over 40,000 deaths, and has carried out a violent campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years.
The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
But Washington has been sending heavy weapons and ammunition to the group and Turkey says this has been under the pretext of fighting against Daesh, which, as expected, has angered Ankara.
Talks with Iran
Kalin also announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would talk to his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over the phone on Wednesday afternoon.
“We expect to see a significant calming in tensions in eastern Ghouta region in the next few days, as per Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instructions. It will be our main topic in the phone call,” he said.
A trilateral summit of leaders from Turkey, Russia, and Iran is expected to be held on April 4 in Istanbul.
The main topic on the agenda of the leaders’ summit is expected to be Syria.
Kalin also said Turkey had been “using every means possible” in order to achieve results in eastern Ghouta, including humanitarian aid and diplomatic efforts led by Erdogan.
On Tuesday, Erdogan and Putin spoke over the phone about the ongoing human tragedy in the besieged Damascus suburb and other developments in Syria.
Extradition of ex-PYD leader
On the arrest and quick release of Salih Muslum, former co-leader of PYD group – the political arm of the YPG group in Syria – in the Czech capital, Prague, Kalin criticised Europe for letting him walk free.
“What does it mean when Europeans allow a person whom Turkey recognises as a terror group member to walk freely in European capitals and streets? They should ask themselves that.”
Muslum, an influential figure in the PKK-related PYD group, is being sought by a Turkish court on suspicion of his involvement in the planning of a deadly terrorist attack carried out in Ankara in 2016.
He was last spotted in Berlin on Saturday, where he also participated in a demonstration organised by supporters of the PKK.
Racist demonstrations in Greece
The presidential aide also “vehemently condemned” the burning of a Turkish flag during a rally against Turkey that had been organised by a racist political party in Athens on Monday.
“We have also taken initiatives in this regard. I want to express our expectation from the Greek authorities to immediately find the offender and take them to court,” Kalin said.
“There may be differences of opinion between countries, there may be different interpretations, but it is a hate crime to burn the flag of a country.”