Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Turkey assails US over ties with Syrian Kurdish militia

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Reuters, Ankara  :
A decision by the United States to continue to fund the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia will affect Turkey's decisions, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, ahead of a visit this week by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Erdogan made the comment in a speech to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament.
Turkey's foreign minister assailed the United States on Monday, claiming that American forces in Syria are intentionally stalling the fight against Islamic State militants as an excuse not to cut ties with Syrian Kurdish militiamen as Ankara has demanded.
Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul that U.S. forces are leaving "pockets" with IS militants intact to justify continued cooperation with the Kurdish militia.
Speaking ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later this week, Cavusoglu said Turkey's ties with the U.S. are at a make-or-break stage and that Washington needs to take "concrete steps" to regain Turkey's trust.
"Our relations are at a very critical stage," Cavusoglu said. "Either we will improve ties or these ties will totally break down."
Ankara is riled over Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG - the top U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.
Turkey considers the YPG a "terrorist" group linked to Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey's own borders.
Turkey's military launched a cross-border operation into the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria to rout the YPG from the region.
Ankara has also threatened to expand its offensive to the YPG-held town of Manbij, east of Afrin, where the U.S. has a military presence, setting the scene for a potential showdown between the two NATO allies that back different sides in Syria's complex and multi-layered civil war.

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