Turkey’s leader said U.S. weapons have fallen into the hands of “terror” factions in the troubled region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that U.S.-supplied weapons have been used against civilians by a Syrian Kurdish militia group. The Turkish leader also spoke with the United States’ President Barack Obama later in the day, who offered his condolences for Wednesday’s car bomb blast that killed 28 people.
Erdogan sees the Syrian Kurdish PYD as a terrorist organization responsible for the attack in Ankara. However, the United States considers the faction a useful ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.
“I will tell him, ‘Look at how and where those weapons you provided were fired’,” he told reporters in Istanbul.
“Months ago in my meeting with him I told him the U.S. was supplying weapons. Three plane loads arrived, half of them ended up in the hands of Daesh (the Islamic State group) and half of them in the hands of the PYD,” he said.
“Against whom were these weapons used? They were used against civilians there and caused their deaths.”
His comments seemed to be referring to a U.S. airdrop of 28 bundles of military supplies in late 2014 meant for Iraqi Kurdish fighters near the Syrian city of Kobani.
The two leaders spoke over the phone Friday, discussing the situation in Syria and Wednesday’s attack, according to White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.
Earnest said more details on the call would be released later Friday.
Despite Erdogan’s insistence that the Syrian Kurdish PYD carried out the recent bombing, a breakaway faction of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have claimed responsibility, according to a statement on its website released Friday.
The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) said the deadly blast was a direct response to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s aggressive policies towards Turkish Kurds and ongoing military operations in the Turkish southeast, on the border with Syria.
TAK also said they will continue to make similar attacks in Turkey and warned foreign tourists against visiting popular holiday destinations, as they threaten to “destroy” the country’s tourism sector.
“Tourism … is a major target we aim to destroy. We warn the foreign and native tourists not go to the touristic areas in Turkey. We are not responsible for who will die in the attacks targeting those areas,” the TAK announced in an English-language statement.
The group said that its relationship with the PKK has been severed. Both groups are regarded as terrorist organisations by Ankara and the U.S.
The comments follow a Feb. 17 explosion in Ankara, which targeted a car next to bus loads of military personnel waiting at traffic lights.
The Turkish military has intensified the shelling of Kurdish forces in northern Syria, close to the border with Turkey, for the past week.