Turkey warns US, Russia against backing Kurdish militia in Syria: Officials
ANKARA – Reuters
In this Nov. 19, 2014, file photo, fighters from Kurdish popular defense units YPJ (women) and YPG (men) gather during a short break before heading out to fight for new positions in Kobani, Syria. AP PhotoTurkey has warned the United States and Russia it will not tolerate Kurdish territorial gains by Kurdish militia close to its frontiers in north-western Syria, two senior officials said.
"This is clear cut for us and there is no joking about it," one official said of the possibility of Syrian Kurdish militia crossing the Euphrates to extend control along Turkish borders from Iraq's Kurdistan region toward the Mediterranean coast.
Turkey fears advances by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, backed by its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing, on the Syrian side of its 900-kilometer border will fuel separatist ambitions among Kurds in its own southeastern territories. But Washington has supported YPG fighters as an effective force in combating Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
"The PYD has been getting closer with both the United States and Russia of late. We view the PYD as a terrorist group and we want all countries to consider the consequences of their cooperation," one of the Turkish officials said, referring to the PYD, which Turkey links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey suspects Russia, which launched air strikes in Syria two weeks ago, has also been lending support to the PYD and YPG, its armed wing.
"With support from Russia, the PYD is trying to capture land between Jarablus and Azaz, going west of the Euphrates. We will never accept this," the official said.