US troops could be ‘accidentally’ hit in strikes against Kurdish militants – Erdogan adviser
A senior aide to Turkish President Erdogan has stated that US forces in Syria could be “accidentally” hit by Turkish rockets alongside Kurdish militants, stating that Ankara won't hold back a strike against PKK militia just because US troops are present.
“It doesn’t matter whether they [US troops] are patrolling there. If those PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] terrorists continue their activities within Turkey...you know they are infiltrating from northern Syria [into Turkey]...” Ilnur Cevik, a senior political adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Turkish radio station CRI TURK on Wednesday.
“...If they go a little further then our forces [wouldn't care whether] there are American armors there...suddenly you happen to see there are a few missiles [that] hit them accidentally too,” he continued.
Cevik's statements came after US troops were deployed to the Syrian border to prevent clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces, after Turkish airstrikes hit two Kurdish-held areas in Syria and Iraq last month.
However, Cevik appeared to make a U-turn on Twitter on Wednesday, stating that Turkey “has never and will never hit its allies anywhere and that includes the US in Syria.”
Turkey has never and will never hit its allies anywhere and that includes the US in Syria.— Ilnur Cevik (@ilnurcevik) May 3, 2017
He stated that Turkey will, however, hit “all terrorists” in Syria, adding that “no one should allow our US allies to become a shield for them.”
Turkey has and will hit all terrorists in Syria so no one should allow our US allies to become a shield for them— Ilnur Cevik (@ilnurcevik) May 3, 2017
Cevik then posted a tweet which appeared to be referencing the US and its risk of “alienating” the Turkish people by cooperating with Ankara's enemies.
Friends do not cooperate with terrorists who kill their friends or else you alienate the Turkish people— Ilnur Cevik (@ilnurcevik) May 3, 2017
Both Turkey and the US have classified the PKK as a terrorist group. However, the two sides disagree on the classification of another Kurdish group, the People's Protection Units (YPG). Although Ankara considers the YPG to be terrorists, the US is cooperating alongside them in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“The YPG, and you know who’s supporting them, is attacking us with mortars. But we will make those places their grave, there is no stopping,” Erdogan said last month, referencing Washington's support, as quoted by AP.
Instead of working with Syrian Kurds, who the US believes are the most powerful force against IS in Syria, Turkey is pressing Washington to let its army join its campaign for Raqqa.
“Let us, huge America, all these coalition powers and Turkey, let us join hands and turn Raqqa to Daesh’s [IS] grave,” Erdogan said last month.
Erdogan will travel to Washington later this month to meet with US President Trump on May 16. It will be the first meeting between the leaders of the two NATO countries.