By Esra Kaymak Avci
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Tuesday told U.S. President Donald Trump that Washington should cease its support for the terrorist PKK's Syrian affiliate the PYD/YPG, according to presidential sources.
"President Erdogan said that Turkey expects the new U.S. administration to stand by Turkey in the fight against FETO” or the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, the group blamed for last July’s defeated coup, the sources told Anadolu Agency.
U.S.-based FETO leader Fetullah Gulen is the mastermind behind the failed July 15 coup attempt, according to Turkey. Since last July, Turkey has officially asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen, but the U.S. has said it is still reviewing the evidence Ankara submitted.
Erdogan also highlighted the importance of countering the PKK and stressed that U.S. should not support the PYD/YPG, said one of the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and EU. More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.
While Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist group, the Obama administration described the PYD as a "reliable partner" in the fight against Daesh in Syria.
Whether Trump will break from his predecessor’s policy towards the group is not yet known.
During the 45-minute phone call -- their first since Trump took office last month -- both leaders expressed commitment to the Turkish-U.S. alliance and close partnership, especially on counter-terrorism efforts.
"President Trump said the U.S. wants to further strengthen bilateral relations and engage in closer cooperation with Turkey on regional issues," the source said.
Congratulating Trump on his election victory, Erdogan highlighted issues such as establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, the refugee crisis, and counter-terrorism efforts.
Though Erdogan has long favored a safe zone, the idea has made little headway with the powers engaged in Syria. But last month Trump told ABC news that he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria."
Erdogan and Trump also agreed to act together on the Daesh-held Syrian cities of Al-Bab and Raqqa, the latter the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital. Wednesday marks day 169 of the Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield to repel Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.
Operations continue to liberate Al-Bab, a strategically important city for Daesh.
The Erdogan-Trump call came on the eve of a visit by CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday, expected to also discuss the PYD/YPG and FETO.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.