Turkish defense minister to top US general: Cut YPG ties

Turkish defense minister to top US general: Cut YPG ties

HALIFAX, Canada

Turkey’s defense minister has voiced Ankara’s objection to U.S. soldiers celebrating a veterans’ holiday with YPG militants in Syria during his meeting with the U.S.’ top general.

“We reiterated the inappropriateness of the YPG presence here [in northern Syria] as a terrorist [group] which is no different from the PKK and U.S. soldiers spending time and cooperating with them,” Hulusi Akar told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency following his meeting early on Nov. 18 with Gen. Joseph Dunford, the U.S. joint chiefs of staff chairman.

The closed-door, one-hour meeting, on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, addressed Nov. 11 photos showing U.S. soldiers stationed in Manbij -- in northern Syria, near the Turkish border -- having a U.S. Veterans Day dinner with YPG militants.

Turkey considers the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK and therefore as terrorist organization. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

YPG is 'Syrian offshoot' of PKK: US envoy

Akar said Turkey scolded the U.S. about the “provocative and unacceptable” images of YPG militants having dinner with U.S. soldiers and said he expects this not to be repeated.

Akar also said that the U.S. cooperation with the YPG disturbed Turkey and urged the U.S. to cut these ties as soon as possible.

“We also pointed out that giving weapons and ammunition to the terrorist YPG by truck and airplanes does not fit with the understanding of [the Turkish-U.S.] alliance,” he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has similarly said that the U.S.’ support for the YPG militants is a “big mistake,” adding that the issue had strained ties between the NATO allies.

“Despite knowing and acknowledging that (the YPG) is the same organization (as the PKK), seeing this cooperation as necessary is really a big mistake,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that he would discuss bilateral relations with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on Nov. 20.

Çavuşoğlu’s remarks came during his meeting with Turkish citizens at Ankara’s New York consulate.

The minister arrived New York on Nov. 17 to attend the 8th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) on partnerships for prevention and sustaining peace.

It will be held at the UN headquarters on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20.

US trying to balance Turkish concerns, YPG cooperation, says US official