Turkey, World, Middle East

Banner of terror leader harms alliance with US: Turkey

'What else does US need to understand that the YPG and PYD are terrorist groups?' says Turkish PM Binali Yildirim

Banner of terror leader harms alliance with US: Turkey Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim

By Onder Felek and Ismail Ozdemir


Washington’s indifference to a terror group displaying a huge banner of its convicted terrorist leader in the Syrian city of Raqqah will damage the U.S.-Turkish alliance, Turkey’s prime minister said on Friday.

“Such images are a great misfortune,” Binali Yildirim told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

“We have constantly told our ally, the United States of America, [and] the latest image shows the regretful consequences of cooperating with one terrorist organization to destroy another.”

When the eastern city of Raqqah was retaken earlier this week by forces including the PKK/PYD and PKK/YPG -- the Syrian branches of the terrorist PKK, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years -- the group unfurled a huge banner bearing the image of jailed terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan in the main square.

“What else does the U.S. want to see to understand that the YPG and PYD are terrorist groups? We are curious about this,” added Yildirim, warning that the incident would damage Turkish-U.S. ties.

Against strong Turkish protests, the U.S. has long armed the SDF who uses the name of PKK/PYD, calling it a “reliable ally” and denying that it is a terrorist group.

The PKK itself is widely recognized as a terrorist group, including by the U.S. 

‘Banner disproved US claims’

Separately, Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag also addressed the issue in the central Yozgat province.

“This image disproved all the U. S. claims, claims like, ‘We’re not coordinating with terrorists, there are no terrorists there, there is the Syrian Democratic Forces’ and the terror organization also disproved it by showing its presence there with the banner.”

The U.S. earlier Friday declined to comment on the matter.

Asked about “a victory enabled by the U.S. that is dedicated to a terrorist group”, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said: “We work with the SDF [PKK/PYD]. And we work to help them focus on fighting ISIS [Daesh]. That is our sole responsibility. That's our sole commitment. And we'll continue to work by, with and through the SDF to ensure that we defeat ISIS.”

In a declaration of victory in Raqqah-- considered Daesh’s de facto capital -- the PKK/PYD also released a video dedicating the triumph to Ocalan, who founded the PKK in 1978. The head terrorist was jailed for treason in Turkey in 1999.

Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, more than 40,000 people have been killed.

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