Turkey, World

NATO allies must back Turkey, not terrorists: Erdogan

Turkish president says Ankara was forsaken, with no international support for its operation on Al-Bab, Syria

29.12.2016
NATO allies must back Turkey, not terrorists: Erdogan

By Esra Kaymak Avci

ANKARA

Members of NATO should stand by Turkey if they consider Ankara an ally and a strategic partner, and not support terrorist organizations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

Speaking at an award ceremony at the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK), Erdogan said Turkey cannot accept a partner that supports terrorist organizations which they themselves consider terrorists.

"We are your NATO ally. How on earth can you support terrorist organizations and not us? Are these terrorist organizations your NATO allies?" the president said. "This is unacceptable."

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also pointed out that it was “clearly known” that the United States had supplied the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG.

The YPG is the armed branch of the PYD – the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU.

According to Turkey, the YPG and PYD are terrorist organizations, too, as they are affiliates of the PKK.

However, the U.S. considers YPG/PYD a "reliable partner" on the ground in Syria and continues to support them in the field. The terrorist group operates currently in northern Syria and controls the majority of the area close to the Turkish border. 

'We don't believe this'

Erdogan also charged that some Western countries lied about arming those terrorist organizations.

"If you provide weapons to these terrorist organizations, but then claim that you don't send weapons but only ammunition, we don't believe this," Erdogan said.

This fall, U.S. officials confirmed that they were supplying arms to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, most of whom are YPG/PYD militants.

According to Erdogan, Turkey has been forsaken in its Operation Euphrates Shield drive to liberate Al-Bab, a strategic city for Daesh in northern Syria, as it has recently gotten no support from NATO or any other ally.

The Turkish army is supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in liberating Al-Bab from Daesh.

The city’s liberation is part of the Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in late August to rid Syria's northern border area of terrorists. Friday marks day 129 of the operation.

Since the start of the operation, more than 1,000 Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized," according to an earlier briefing by Turkey's defense minister.

Erdogan added that NATO did not support Ankara when its Syria border was under threat since the civil war started in the country nearly six years ago. Nor did it show solidarity when Turkish territory was bombed several times in 2016 by various groups such as the PKK and Daesh, he added.

The U.S.-led coalition, which is supposed to defeat Daesh, is not lending a hand to Operation Euphrates Shield in Al-Bab, which is the most successful operation ever against the terrorist group, according to Erdogan.

However, the "terror organizations will eventually attack the nations that support them, too," Erdogan said, referring to attacks in the U.S. last year by individuals who likely belong to terrorist groups such as Daesh.

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