Tillerson praises US ambassador for efforts amid 'terror support' row with Turkey
REUTERS photoUnited States Secretary of State Rex Tilllerson praised efforts by U.S. Ambassador to Ankara John Bass on Aug. 1 for his efforts in bilateral relations between Ankara and Washington, despite a bitter ongoing dispute over "terrorism support."
“As you know, our relationship with Turkey is a bit under stress as well and Ambassador Bass has been most helpful and remarkable in how he’s led our efforts there in Ankara,” Tillerson said during a press meeting in Washington.
He also acknowledged the U.S. envoy of the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition Brett McGurk, who had recently been under fire by Ankara for his remarks linking Turkey with terror groups in northern Syria.
“I also want to acknowledge Brett McGurk, special envoy to the war against ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] and his assistant, number two, Terry Wolff. They are the people on the ground in Syria near the fight, checking to see if the aid is showing up the way it’s supposed to and whether we are meeting our commitments to restore some of the basic needs of the communities,” Tillerson said, using another acronym for the jihadist group.
Speaking at a panel at the Middle East Institute in Washington, McGurk, had suggested that the city of Idlib had turned into a “safe zone for al-Qaeda terrorists on the Turkish border,” an accusation slammed by Ankara.
In an ongoing row, Turkey considers the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to be an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is also recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.
The U.S. administration began directly providing weapons to the YPG in the anti-ISIL campaign upon a presidential order signed by Trump in mid-May, at the expense of angering its ally Turkey.