Heads of Turkish, US defense discuss PYD issue in Belgium
BRUSSELSTurkey’s defense minister raised concerns over the U.S.’s arming of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Brussels, ahead of a NATO gathering on June 28, said a source familiar with the conversation.
Mattis’ recent letter to Turkey discusses the PYD – considered by Ankara an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and therefore a terrorist organization – and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Reports stated that the letter pledges that the U.S. will take back the weapons supplied once the joint operation is over.
Before the meeting, Işık responded to Mattis’ letter, repeating Ankara’s line that “using one terror group to fight another is unacceptable.”
In Brussels, when Işık expressed his frustration with the U.S.’s arming the group, Mattis called arming the PYD “an interim situation triggered by necessity rather than preference,” said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The top defense officials also discussed Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Qatar crisis, with both agreeing the latter “must be resolved in the context of the Gulf state’s sovereignty,” said the source.