Turkey has evidence of US arming 'terror' groups: Ministry
ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkey will "soon" share evidence that the United States has supplied the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)/ Democratic Union Party (PYD) with arms, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 17.
Speaking to foreign media representatives in Istanbul, Çavuşoğlu said the U.S. "is repeating a mistake" with the approval of secret cooperation between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the PKK/PYD in Syria.
A recent PKK/PYD deal, per revealed by a BBC report, allowing over 200 ISIL militants to escape Raqqa has received a strong reaction from Turkey.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon on Nov. 12 defended the deal, saying it was part of a "local solution to a local issue".
But Çavuşoğlu warned that "YPG [referring to PKK/PYD] is gaining more and more territory, which is a very risky development".
Referring to a "good cooperation between YPG and ISIL,” he said: "Nobody denies it. We have been telling our U.S. allies and others in the coalition that there is no difference between YPG and the PKK and that YPG is not fighting for freedom or the unity of the country but fighting to gain more territory in the country."
Criticizing the U.S. for not keeping its promise that PKK/PYD forces would withdraw from Raqqa, he said: "They have not been able to pull back YPG from any town... Now, you see the statement which said they would continue to work with YPG."
"We are going to share soon the photos and evidence showing weapons that the U.S. has been giving to YPG and also weapons made in other coalition states, including Germany."
Afrin: 'A serious threat'
As for the northwestern Syrian province of Afrin, the minister said there were also 'terrorists' in the region which targeted Turkey.
"They attack our security personnel, and they are using the weapons given by some countries in the coalition," he said.
"Afrin poses a serious threat to our national security. So wherever there are terrorists, we need to eliminate them."
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are reportedly planning to set up 12 observation and security points in Idlib as part of the
Astana peace process while preparing to extend the operation to Afrin and Manbij.
Turkish troops will be deployed to strategic points in Idlib, near its border with Afrin and Manbij, to monitor the region to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces as well as outline a plan for an upcoming operation in the other two areas.
The Turkish military has already established six observation posts across Idlib.
Çavuşoğlu said the main role of the observers was to find out "who is violating the ceasefire". "It is not an easy task," he said.
"We need to identify all the radical groups and we need to eliminate them."
The minister also shared that Turkey had stopped and deported more than 5,000 foreign fighters in the past 4-5 years.
Around 3,000 others are under arrest in Turkey, he said.
Upcoming Syria talks in Sochi
On the Astana talks, Çavuşoğlu said: "We have been cooperating with Russia and we made a lot of progress." "It has been a transparent process," he said.
"Russia did a great job there. Turkey also has been a main actor and Iran also contributed. We agreed to make an assessment of the achievements." Çavuşoğlu said both Turkey and Russia supported a political solution and the territorial integrity of war-torn Syria.
He underlined the need for "a transition period" during which he said all sides should be united.
The foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet in Turkey's Mediterranean city of Antalya on the weekend ahead of a trilateral meeting on Syria in Russia’s Sochi city on Nov. 22.
The three guarantor countries will discuss the progress on reducing violence in Syria and de-escalation zones which were established after the Astana talks.