Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that his country’s relations would further strain with the United States if Washington continues to support Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.
Speaking to a New York convention of the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), a Turkish advocacy group in the US, Erdogan claimed that the American Army had delivered two planes of arms to the YPG in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani three days earlier.
“I asked Mr. Biden yesterday if he knew about the delivery. He said I do not know. I said, but I know. The same thing happened before. They [the US] sent three planes loads of weapons to Kobani. Half of the weapons went to Daesh, the other half to the PYD. Now we have this miserable situation. We have to overcome this problem in the region hand in hand with the US,” said Erdogan in his speech televised by the state-run TRT TV.
Erdogan was referring to an October 2014 incident in which an American military cargo aircraft airdropped weaponry and medical supplies to resupply besieged Kurdish fighters in Kobani.
One of the 28 bundles of supplies fell into IS’s hands but was subsequently destroyed by a US warplane, said Steve Warren, then Pentagon spokesperson.
Kurdish forces eventually broke the IS siege, regaining lost ground in Kobani environs in late January 2015.
“You can’t finish Daesh if you bargain with another terrorist group like the PYD and the YPG. Can there be the good terrorist and the bad terrorist? All of them are terrorists. Jabhat al Nusra too is fighting Daesh [IS], but you are not saying al Nusra is good. You are saying YPG and PYD are good,” Erdogan told his audience.
PYD is the ruling party in Syrian Kurdistan, better known as Rojava.
MOST EFFECTIVE PARTNERS
Meanwhile in Washington D.C., the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee that he supported directly arming the Kurdish YPG that leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“We’re in deliberation right now about what exactly to do about the Syrian Democratic Forces,” said Dunford.
“They [SDF] are our most effective partner on the ground,” Dunford is heard in a video record published on the Armed Services Committee website.
“If we would reinforce the Syrian Democratic Forces’ current capabilities, that will increase the prospects of our success in Raqqa,” stated Dunford referring to the de facto capital of IS.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter too backed the idea, saying “I support whatever is required to help them move in the direction of Raqqa.”