Syria – Conflict – USA – Turkey – Military – Erdogan

Erdogan Says United States Arming Syrian Kurdish Militia

Erdogan Says United States Arming Syrian Kurdish Militia
Fri Sep 23, 2016 15:01:28

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the United States has supplied more weapons to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria whom the Ankara government deems hostile to itself.

Erdogan said in New York on Thursday that Washington dropped two planeloads of arms for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Kobani this week.

The YPG, which is nearly in control of Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been considered by the US as a major partner in the fight against the Takfiri ISIS (Daesh / ISIL) terrorist group in Syria.

Ankara, however, regards the YPG and its affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

“If you think you can finish off ISIS with the YPG and PYD, you cannot, because they are terrorist groups, too,” Erdogan said, calling out the US.

He said he had raised the issue of the alleged arms delivery with US Vice President Joe Biden in a meeting on Wednesday, but Biden had said, according to Erdogan, that he had no knowledge of such a development.

Female fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are seen in Syria’s western Ras al-Ain. (File photo)

The administration of US President Barack Obama was weighing a plan to directly arm the Kurdish fighters in Raqqa, which is Daesh’s stronghold in Syria, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Citing US officials, the report said that the National Security Council was studying the plan.

American officials said the proposal had not yet been presented to the White House for a final decision.

The Times said that while directly providing arms to the Kurdish fighters would help intensify the offensive against ISIS in Raqqa, it could also escalate tensions between Ankara and Washington.

The US and Turkey are at odds over a range of issues, including Washington’s refusal to extradite Turkish opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, who is wanted by Ankara over his alleged role in a failed coup back in July. The two countries also differ on how Kurdish fighters in the region should be treated.

Turkey has been hitting Kurdish positions in northern Syria in the recent past without acquiring a permission from the government in Damascus. Turkey has also been pounding Kurds in Iraq, which is also unhappy with the Turkish military operations on its soil.

The US has long been supplying the militants with arms and ammunition. The US and some of its allies has also been pounding purported Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014, without any authorization from Damascus or the UN.

Turkey is also said to be among the main supporters of the militant groups in Syria operating against the Damascus government.

S/SH 11

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