Turkey’s Erdogan says US-led coalition gives support to terrorist groups in Syria

12:00 • 28.12.16



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he has evidence that US-led coalition forces have given support to terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Syrian Kurdish forces. 


“They [anti-ISIL coalition forces] were accusing us of supporting Daesh,” Erdogan told a press conference in Ankara  alongside visiting Guinean President Alpha Conde on December 27, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
 

“Now they’ve all vanished and they’re giving support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG and the PYD.


 It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos,” he said.


Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) as terror organizations due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it has been fighting against since mid-1980s. 


Turkey and the US are at odds with the designation of the PYD and YPG, as the U.S. sees the two groups as “reliable” partners in their fight against ISIL in Syria. The U.S. along with the European Union designates the PKK as a terrorist organization.


At least 40 Turkish troops have died in Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation since it was launched on Aug. 24 to clear the country’s border with Syria from terror organizations, which include ISIL, as well as the PYD and YPG. 


Later in the day, the US State Department rejected as “ludicrous” accusations by Erdoğan that the U.S.-led coalition supported ISIL, though making a distinction to the support given to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 


“Daesh – I said that from the outright. That’s just ludicrous. I don’t know where that comes from,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner during a daily briefing on December 27. 


While rejecting support for ISIL, Toner reiterated US’ stance regarding the SDF. 


The PYD and YPG are part of the SDF, along with Syrian Arab forces, which are also fighting ISIL in Syria. The U.S.-backed SDF is currently conducting an operation to liberate ISIL’s capital of Raqqa in Syria. 


“So we do provide tactical support to the Syrian Democratic Forces. There’s no surprise there. We’ve been very transparent about that. That’s to help us all achieve our shared goal of defeating Daesh. The Syrian Democratic Forces have, as we’ve said many times, proven to be a very capable force against Daesh, and our support for them – again, our tactical support for them will continue,” Toner said. 


“As we’ve also said before, we’ve never provided weapons to the YPG. And we have provided equipment to vetted Arab elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces. This equipment has included ammunition and other tactical equipment to assist the coalition’s counter-ISIL operations. But let me be clear that we reject any group providing support to the PKK or enabling its terrorist campaign within Turkey,” he added. 





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