Turkey demands US replace envoy in spat over Syrian Kurds




  • In World
  • 2017-05-18 20:51:57Z
  • By ZEYNEP BILGINSOY

ISTANBUL (AP) - Turkey has told the United States it will not join in any military operations that include Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday, while vowing to strike the U.S.-backed Kurds if they threaten Turkey's security.

Turkey's foreign minister also demanded that a U.S. envoy be removed for allegedly backing the Kurds, but the State Department said Brett McGurk has the "full support" of the Trump administration.

Speaking in Istanbul two days after meeting President Donald Trump in Washington, Erdogan criticized the U.S. decision to ally with "terror organizations" for the long-awaited operation to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group.

"We said we would not be in such an operation with you where you ally with terror organizations and so we said good luck," Erdogan said.

Turkey considers the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria a terror organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Erdogan said he warned Trump that Turkey would combat YPG if the group posed any security threat. "We are already telling you in advance, our rules of engagement give us this authority, we will take such a step and we won't discuss it or consult with anyone. Because we have no time to lose," he said.

Citing a cross-border offensive Turkey launched against IS and the YPG in Syria last year, Erdogan said "we won't hesitate to launch similar operations if we see the need."

Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Trump administration understood Turkey's position against the YPG. "They did not say anything negative about this issue and treated it with understanding," he said.

In April, the U.S. had criticized Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq.

Cavusoglu said Trump's administration seems more understanding about Turkey's security concerns. He went on to plead for the replacement of Brett McGurk, the U.S. presidential envoy for the global coalition against IS.

"This McGurk is definitely supporting the PKK and YPG. It would be beneficial for this person to change," he said, accusing the diplomat of carrying on Obama-administration policies.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said McGurk has done "tremendous work" in coordinating and leading the international coalition against IS, and has the support of the White House and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The U.S. respects Turkish concerns about its "by, with, and through" approach to the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the YPG, and will continue consulting with Ankara as the focus on combating IS continues, Nauert said.

Cavusoglu said Turkey received U.S. assurances that arms sent to the YPG would be used only against IS, without explaining how this would be monitored.

"The weapons provided will only be used in Raqqa and its south, they will absolutely not be used against Turkey, this will not be allowed," Cavusoglu said. "Turkey and the U.S. will together run an active combat against the PKK."

A cease-fire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed in July 2015 after a two-and-a half year hiatus in fighting, leading to clashes in Turkey's southeast and round-the-clock curfews as well as airstrikes on alleged PKK camps in northern Iraq.

According to the International Crisis Group, at least 2,798 people, including state security personnel and Kurdish militants, have been killed in Turkey. The death toll includes nearly 400 civilians.

The PKK is considered a terror group by the U.S. and Turkey's Western allies.

___

Josh Lederman contributed from Washington.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump labels father of UCLA player an
Trump labels father of UCLA player an 'ungrateful fool'

In a series of tweets fired off before dawn on the first day of his Thanksgiving vacation, the president complained yet again that LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Hall, hasn't given him credit for the release of his son and two other UCLA basketball players from detention in China. ''Too

'We don't need a liberal:' Trump discounts Moore accusations

President Donald Trump on Tuesday discounted allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and said voters should not support Moore's "liberal" rival. Trump ...

Sarah Silverman Says She 'Fell In Love' With Trump Voters While Traveling
Sarah Silverman Says She 'Fell In Love' With Trump Voters While Traveling

Sarah Silverman has some things to say about Trump voters she's encountered while traveling for work ― and they're all positive!

Judge permanently blocks Trump sanctuary cities order
Judge permanently blocks Trump sanctuary cities order

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

Before elephants, US loosened limits on lion trophies
Before elephants, US loosened limits on lion trophies

One month before the Trump administration sparked outrage by reversing a ban on trophies from threatened African elephants, federal officials quietly loosened restrictions on the importation of heads and ...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.