Germany leaving İncirlik air base won’t affect our contribution to anti-ISIL coalition: Turkish PM
ANKARAA potential decision by the German parliament to remove its troops from İncirlik air base to another base will not affect Turkish contribution to the international coalition’s fight against jihadists in Syria, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, stressing that Turkey’s doors were open to all friends willing to fight against terror.
“We are in full cooperation with our allies and partners in the fight against Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL] and we are hosting soldiers of the coalition forces. Our contribution to the fight against terror will not be affected, although there are disagreements with one of our partners over the [use of] the base,” Yıldırım told heads of diplomatic missions in Ankara at an iftar dinner late June 6.
Yıldırım referred to an ongoing spat with Germany whose request for a visit to German troops stationed at the İncirlik base was rejected because of Berlin’s decision to accept asylum requests of former military personnel allegedly linked with the July 2016 coup attempt. Germany is mulling over moving its troops and six Tornado surveillance aircrafts to Jordan.
“Our door is always open to our friends in the fight against terror. But if their conditions do not fit with it and if they ponder their contribution in a different way, then it’s their own discretion,” Yıldırım said.
Erdoğan slams US alliance with YPG
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his address to the ambassadors, reiterated Turkey’s disturbance with the United States’ decision to ally with People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in a military operation to liberate Raqqa from ISIL jihadists.
In his strong criticism, without naming the US, Erdoğan said lending support to terror organizations forces Turkey to sit on “a hand grenade with a pulled pin.”
“Those who are describing these groups as militia forces will soon understand their mistake. It is very unfortunate that a kind of strategic blindness is being observed in Syria. A bloody-handed terror organization is being put in use in a bid to defeat Daesh terror. I repeat: be cruel to be kind. This [alliance with YPG] is an effort to clean blood with blood,” he added.
‘PKK’s weapons are from friends’
Erdoğan said weapons recently seized in caves in mountains in the country’s southeast prove Turkey’s concerns over the U.S.’s decision to provide military equipment and arms to the YPG. “Saying ‘we are your friend’ does not resolve any problem,” he said.
“We have neutralized around 3,000 Daesh terrorists. I ask, those who are fighting Daesh, how many of them have you neutralized?” he said.
Although Turkey proposed to the U.S. a joint operation against ISIL, Erdoğan said: “But they told us that they will conduct it with PYD [Democratic Union Party] and its armed wing, the YPG, which we designated as a terror organization. What can we say to it? Good luck with it. Good luck with it; but, we’ll do whatever is necessary in the event of a slightest assault against us.”
Erdoğan also vowed that Turkey will take all measures to stop PKK from having new headquarters in northern Iraq and to prevent the establishment of a terror corridor in northern Syria.