US pledges to support YPG against ISIL
CİHAN photoThe U.S. State Department has announced its support for fighters in Northern Syria contains a broad array of groups, including for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in contradiction with statements from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said coalition support “Includes Syrian Kurds as part of that group, as well as Syrian Arabs. But it’s not fair to say it’s just one group.”
Toner added Turkey’s recent bombing of outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) targets has not complicated Washington’s relations with the PYD.
Turkey recently launched airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and PKK militants in Syria and Iraq. Turkish jets bombed PKK camps in northern Iraq for the first time in more than two years July 24, and again hit PKK targets on July 26 and 28.
The airstrikes came as Turkey was hit by a wave of violence following a July 20 suicide bomb attack by a suspected ISIL militant that killed 31 activists in Suruç in southeastern Turkey, in addition to the attacker.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç told reporters in Turkey that a cabinet resolution to allow the use the strategic İncirlik air base by coalition aircraft “has matured,” meaning the base “could be used any time, whenever needed.”
However, he noted the operation concerned only ISIL and did not include air support for the YPG.
Turkey has committed to assisting forces in northern Syria in their fight against ISIL, the White House said July 30.
“There is a coalition of fighters that have operated on the ground in northern Syria, and they have operated quite effectively against ISIL forces in Syria,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
“What the Turks have committed to doing is contributing to that success even further. So we certainly welcome their willingness and their desire to do that,” Earnest added.
Turkey announced July 24 that the anti-ISIL coalition could use Turkish bases, including the İncirlik air base in southeast Turkey, to carry out airstrikes against ISIL.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said July 29 the Incirlik Air was is ready for use in the campaign.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said earlier the U.S. aimed to further extend its help actively to the YPG through the use of İncirlik.