Ankara denies accusations of providing arms to extremist groups in Syria
File photo shows Saleh Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), during a Reuters interview in Berlin. The claims against Ankara were brought up by Muslim in an interview with daily Taraf. REUTERS photoAnkara has denied Sept. 18 claims that Turkey was handing weapons over to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front as well as the jihadist Ahrar al-Sham groups.
“We do not lend any direct support to al-Nusra or any other groups. The only contact point for Turkey is the Syrian National Council,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News, recalling that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had several times stated this position of Turkey regarding the anti-regime groups in Syria.
The claims were brought up by the Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim in an interview with daily Taraf published on Sept. 18.
“Turkey is [employing] the gangs to make war against us. They give them mortars, they give them bullets. We have documented everything. And this is being done in broad daylight,” the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose armed wing the People’s Defense Units (YPG) has been engaged in constant fighting with jihadist rebel groups in the northern parts of Syria (called Rojava by the Kurds) for weeks, told Taraf.
The same diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to give a direct response to Muslim’s accusations.
Muslim had visited Turkey twice in a brief period since the open conflict between Kurdish milita groups and jihadist rebels mounted, triggering a refugee outflow in Rojava, describing its contacts as “fruitful.”
However, the PYD leader accused Turkey of being “insincere” and not refraining from supporting the rebels groups, despite having launched talks with Syrian Kurds.
Withdrawal may restart: Senior PKK leader
Meanwhile, a senior member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) said that the halted withdrawal of militants might restart as soon as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took steps towards negotiations.
“We said that we had halted the withdrawal. But if the government makes a step for negotiations and gives confidence, we will continue the withdrawal. We wanted to give a warning,” Cemil Bayık told private broadcaster İMC.
The jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called over the week-end for the change of format of the ongoing Kurdish peace process from a period based on “dialogue” to one of “negotiations.”