Turkey expects allies to disengage from PYD/YPG: FM
“We expect all our coalition partners to disengage from the YPG,” he said, addressing the Global Coalition Against ISIL Ministerial Meeting in Washington on late Nov. 14.
The minister told the gathering of the coalition of foreign ministers that members must work with “legitimate partners,” stating that the PKK’s Syrian offshoot is responsible for more than 300 attacks in the last two years against Turks and Syrians.
That includes, the Turkish top diplomat said, firing over 1,000 rockets and mortars on Turkish towns as Turkish casualties have approached 200. “The PYD/YPG has committed crimes against humanity,” he said.
“Thanks to ‘Operation Peace Spring,’ the PYD/YPG agenda to establish a terror state is now in ruins. Syria’s territorial integrity and unity are enforced. A long-standing terror threat to Turkey is contained,” he added.
Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to “secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.”
“Turkey is the only coalition country to fight DEASH [ISIL] in close combat. PYD/YPG is the same as DEASH. Fight against terrorism cannot be conducted by cooperating w/terrorist organizations,” he tweeted after the meeting.
The United States and its European allies clashed at the meeting over what to do with thousands of jihadists jailed in Syria, with Washington calling a French proposal to try fighters in Iraq “irresponsible.”
Senior officials from more than 30 countries pledged greater coordination in the campaign against the ISIL group in a meeting in Washington proposed by France, which has been particularly concerned by President Donald Trump’s decision last month to pull U.S. troops from Syria.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed the Europeans on foreign fighters, telling them, “We’ll hold them to account.”
“Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated,” Pompeo said.
But Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, acknowledged that “there is, candidly, a difference of opinion about the best way to resolve this problem.”
“The United States thinks that it’s inappropriate to ask Iraq in particular to shoulder the additional burden of foreign fighters, particularly from Europe,” Sales told reporters after the one-day meeting. “It would be irresponsible for any country to expect Iraq to solve that problem for them,” he said.
“We think there should be a sense of urgency to repatriate now while we still can,” he said. Sales’ comments clearly were directed at France, which has opened talks with Iraq about trying foreign nationals.
European nations such as France and Britain have no desire to see the return of battle-hardened supporters of the ultra-violent group, which has claimed responsibility for a slew of grisly attacks against civilians.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his government was seeking the “certain and lasting detention” of fighters and noted that the vast majority of prisoners were Iraqis and Syrians. “For our part, we will continue to say that they should be tried as close as possible to the crimes they committed,” he told reporters.
The ministers also said they would hold a meeting next year focused on the ISIL group in West Africa, where the extremists have staged increasingly destructive attacks.