US provides assurances to Turkey over YPG role in ISIL fight
The United States has provided assurances that weapons to be provided to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish group Ankara sees as a terror organization, will only be used to liberate Raqqa from jihadists and not against Turkey, according to Ankara.
“[The Americans] told us that they won’t allow any group, including the YPG, to pose a threat to Turkey,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told NTV in an interview on May 18 regarding the details of a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on May 16.
Erdoğan and Trump held their first in-person meeting on May 16, a week after the latter signed an order to provide weapons to the YPG to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) despite Ankara’s contention that the group is affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Washington sought to diffuse Ankara’s concerns by giving some assurances during the meeting.
Çavuşoğlu said Erdoğan informed Trump that Turkey would implement its rules of engagement against the YPG in the event of an assault, noting that U.S. officials did not raise any objections.
“Weapons will only be used in Raqqa and in the south. They won’t allow these weapons to be used against Turkey. And they will actively support Turkey’s fight against the PKK,” Çavuşoğlu said.
No promises given to YPG
Turkey’s top diplomat said they had made it clear to U.S. officials that the YPG’s main objective was to expand its influence and territories in Syria for a future independent state on the pretext of fighting ISIL. “They told us that they have not given any promises like this to the YPG. They also told us that they support the territorial integrity of Syria and wouldn’t allow such an entity,” he said.
U.S. officials told the Turkish delegation that the control and administration of Raqqa, a predominantly Arab city, would be left to Arab powers in line with Ankara’s demand.