‘Support your NATO ally, not terrorists:’ Erdogan slams US amidst row over alleged YPG supplies
“We are your NATO ally. How on Earth can you support terrorist organizations and not us? Are these terrorist organizations your NATO allies?” Erdogan said during a speech at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) awards in Ankara on Thursday, as quoted by Anadolu news agency. “This is unacceptable.”
He said that although Turkey has been calling on Western countries not to make any distinctions among terrorist organizations, “some countries, primarily the United States, have been supporting the terrorist organizations who massacre the innocent in the region,” Turkish Minute reported.
Erdogan went on to warn that such terrorist organizations will also “eventually attack the nations that support them.”
The president's statements aligned with those made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said on Thursday that it is “clearly known” that the US had fed supplies to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group.
Erdogan's remarks come just two days after the leader said it is “very clear” the US-led coalition is supporting terrorist groups in Syria, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), citing “confirmed evidence.”
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the claim that Washington is supporting IS is “ludicrous,” but stated that it has been “supporting” the YPG and “other forces.”
“We're mindful, of course, of some of the tensions that exist obviously between these Turkish-supported forces and the YPG and other forces that we've been supporting in that area, and those are tensions – again, that's the reason why we're working closely, having these discussions, and trying to coordinate with them,” Toner said during a Tuesday press briefing.
The US embassy in Ankara stressed, however, that Washington had not supplied weapons or explosives to the YPG or the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) “period.”
Erdogan's Tuesday statements came as he accused the US-led coalition of “failing to keep its promises" of pledging air support in the operation to liberate Al-Bab, a northern Syrian town which Kurdish groups have also been trying to seize, from IS.
Al-Bab lies south of the 20km buffer zone that Turkey initially said it wanted to establish when it launched Operation Euphrates Shield at the end of August. Taking it would advance Ankara’s objective of separating the Kurdish-held territory in Afrin from the US-backed Kurds in Manbij and Kobani.