Ankara expressed disappointment with the US decision to send heavy weapons to Kurdish militants, while the Kurds praised Washington’s decision as a “historic” move that greatly expands the group’s capabilities to “fight terrorism.”
The Turkish government has asked the US to reverse its decision to broaden support for Syria’s Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG), stating that it is unacceptable for a NATO ally to support “terrorist groups.”
Every weapon given to the YPG represents a threat to Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavushoglu told reporters on Wednesday.
“If we support the territorial integrity of Syria, we should take lessons from the mistakes we made in Iraq and abstain from making any wrong moves. YPG and PKK are the same entity, there’s no difference between them,” Cavushoglu said, according to NTV broadcaster. “Every weapon which gets into their hands represents a threat to Turkey.”
“We cannot accept the presence of terrorist organizations that would threaten the future of the Turkish state,” Turkish Deputy PM Nurettin Canikli told broadcaster A Haber on Wednesday. “We hope the US will put a stop to this wrong and back down from it. This policy will not be beneficial to anyone; you can’t be in the same sack as terrorist organizations.”
While the YPG is a US ally in Syria, Ankara perceives it as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group in both Turkey and the US.
As the decision to supply heavier weapons was announced, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the US “reassures the people and the government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”
The YPG militia praised the US’ decision, stating that it would boost the group’s capability to “fight terrorism.”
“We believe that from now on and after this historic decision, (the YPG) will play a stronger, more influential and more decisive role in combating terrorism at a fast pace,” Reuters cited YPG spokesman Redur Xelil as saying in a written statement.