Turkey calls on the US to immediately stop supporting Kurdish YPG militia amid escalation

Videos and photos circulated on social media, which appeared to show US forces reinforcing presence on the Syrian border with Turkey, after tensions escalated this week with cross-border clashes between Turkish forces and the US-backed Kurdish militia, the YPG. The clashes between the two sides comes as Turkey has intensified attacks on the internationally recognized terror group, the Kurdish PKK, in both northern Iraq and Syria. The Turkish attacks on the YPG militia, however, has prompted an American attempt to defuse the escalation by sending military reinforcements to the area, as Washington and Ankara do not see eye-to-eye on the Kurdish group, which the United States views as a useful partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, while Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group that cooperates with the anti-Turkish PKK.

The American support of the YPG militia has angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who referred to a video purporting to show an American convoy with both the flags of the YPG and the United States. President Erdogan said he would ask, during a scheduled meeting later this month with his American counterpart Trump, about the video – which the Turkish leader stressed what “seriously saddening”. Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, Erdogan urged the United States to stop cooperating with the YPG, warning that if Washington continue to support them, dangerous consequences may follow. 

“Since we are against international terrorism as partners, we will show these photos to them and ask what this situation is about. If the fight against terrorism is not carried out on a common platform, what happens to us today will happen to someone else tomorrow. We need to say that and this tradition – I say tradition because this is an ongoing process that has started during the Obama administration – needs to end now,” said Erdogan.

A senior US official told TV7 that the US-led coalition has identified the Syrian Democratic Forces, commonly known by its abbreviation SDF, as the most useful partner on the ground in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State in Syria. The official further noted that the Kurdish YPG militia, which is an active partner of the SDF alliance, has proved on several occasions its dedication to the battle against the Islamic State and other extreme Muslim groups, providing the anti-ISIL coalition local forces that have become imperative to the success of the entire campaign.