By Ahmet Sait Akcay
Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday slammed the presence of the YPG/PKK in northern Syria, saying that Turkey’s possible Afrin operation came in response to the group’s terrorist threat.
“Turkey is subject to attacks every day from Afrin. It is our right to self-defense in line with international law to take measure against a terror group surrounding us on three sides, violating our rights, and we should intercede,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told news channel CNN Turk.
On the U.S. arming and backing the YPG/PKK terror group, he said: “Supporting the YPG/PKK means threatening Syria’s territorial integrity.”
He added: “We have informed them [US] we will be intervening in Afrin and we will take action against the threats towards us wherever they come from on the eastern side of the Euphrates, in Manbij or elsewhere.”
Turkey does not want to see its ally, the U.S., on the opposite side of a conflict, he said.
About the expected Afrin operation, he said it would target the terrorist PYD/PKK, not the Kurds.
“This distinction should be made clearly. We should take all measures, including supplying humanitarian aid, to avoid civilians being harmed. And we should take steps carefully,” he said.
He said that the PYD/PKK’s armed wing, the YPG, had forced Kurds into exile, as more than 300,000 Kurds have fled to Turkey.
'US should keep its promises'
The U.S.-led international coalition against Daesh said on Sunday that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF/PKK -- a group largely controlled and manned by the PYD/PKK terrorist organization.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S.' intention was to train local forces to fight remaining Daesh militants in Syria, adding that the planned force had been “misportrayed.”
Criticizing U.S. support for the YPG/PKK, Cavusoglu told CNN Turk that the U.S.’ explanations fell short.
The U.S. promised Turkey that it would take back arms it gave the terror group after Daesh was defeated, said Cavusoglu, but it failed to do so.
“The U.S. should keep its promise, or it will no longer be trustworthy,” he added.
Turkey has long protested the U.S. support for the PYD/PKK terror group, while Washington has brushed off these criticisms, saying it needs the terror group’s help to fight Daesh in Syria.
The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.
The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians.