President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused NATO allies of supporting “terrorists” with thousands of truckloads of weapons, while ignoring Turkey’s request to purchase their arms.
“What kind of NATO alliance is this?” Erdogan said on Monday during an election campaign rally in southwestern Turkey’s Burdur region.
“You give terrorists around 23,000 truckloads of weapons and tools through Iraq, but when we asked you won’t even sell them to us,” he added.
“We have a 911-kilometre border [with Syria]. We’re under threat at any moment.”
Erdogan did not specify which nations were allegedly supplying arms through Iraq.
Turkey also expects Syria’s Manbij region to be rid of “terrorists” and left to locals as soon as possible, said the Turkish leader.
Manbij has been held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), since 2016.
This has angered neighbouring Turkey, which views the influence wielded by the YPG in northern Syria as a national security threat.
Ankara considers the YPG a “terrorist group” with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. PKK has waged a decades-long armed conflict in the country, killing an estimated 40,000 people.
Ankara has threatened to target Manbij in a military operation to wipe out the YPG.
But the Kurdish militia has been Washington’s main ally in the ground war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) in Syria for several years. The United States has warned Turkey against attackingthe armed group.
The YPG controls a swathe of territory in northeast Syria from the eastern banks of the Euphrates Riverto the Iraqi border.
Referring to northern Syria, Erdogan said, “in this region, only those who do not stand against Turkey but side with it will win”.