Turkey denies cooperation with PYD, calls it a terrorist organization
AA PhotoTurkey did not contact the armed wing of the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) prior to the evacuation operation of its troops from an historic Ottoman tomb inside Syria, a spokesperson for the presidency has said, reiterating the country still regards the PYD as a terrorist organization.
“First of all, the PYD is a terrorist organization to us,” İbrahim Kalın, a spokesperson for the presidency, told reporters at a press conference Feb. 23, following statements from PYD officials that the party’s armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) provided assistance in the entry and the exit of Turkish troops into Syrian territory over the weekend.
Turkey sees the PYD as the Syrian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has designated it a terror organization. However, the PYD’s leader, Salih Müslim, is often hosted in Ankara to discuss regional matters and his most recent visit to Turkey was last week just before the evacuation of the troops.
Kalın denied Turkey sought contact, coordination and assistance from the YPG and ISIL, and stated the operation was fully carried out through the country’s own capabilities. Turkey had informed anti-ISIL coalition members and the Syrian National Council and issued a diplomatic note to the Syrian regime, he said.
“Our chief of general staff, our intelligence agency and our foreign ministry have good knowledge of this geography. Preparing, implementing and accomplishing this operation without any problem is directly linked with this knowledge. Therefore, this is an operation initiated by Turkey and implemented with its own capabilities,” he said.
This evacuation operation avoided a potential attack or casualties on Turkish troops, Kalın said. “Think the opposite: We would face a very bad picture if our troops would be killed or wounded in an attack. With this operation, this possibility is nixed,” he said.
Will Turkey be more active against ISIL?
Upon a question on whether Turkey will toughen its stance against ISIL, Kalın expressed sorrow for the propaganda stating Turkey is not doing enough against the jihadists. “Turkey has been the country exerting the utmost efforts against DAESH [ISIL] terror in the territories of Syria, Iraq and Turkey,” he said.
Turkey has increased border security and other security measures to stop the inflow of foreign fighters to Syria through Turkish soil, but its counterparts in Europe have been failing to provide timely and adequate intelligence on the travel of these potential fighters, Kalın said.
“We have seen and continue to see the barbarism of DAESH terrorism. We need to underline once again that the war in Syria should be ended for an effective fight against it, because the [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad regime is openly using DAESH to weaken and divide the Free Syrian Army. He indirectly supports it,” he said.