Turkey ‘will not allow’ YPG to be supported: Turkish top commander
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar vowed on Jan. 16 that Turkey “would not and will not allow an extension of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK to be given support and armed under the guise of being an ‘operational partner.’”
Speaking at a NATO meeting in Brussels, Akar blasted the continued support given to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), just over the border from Turkey.
Akar urged NATO “not to distinguish between terrorist organizations,” calling on the U.S. to “return from its mistake” in supporting the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
He stressed that the struggle against the PKK, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) is “just as important” as the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
NATO-member Turkey was angered after the U.S.-led coalition stated on Jan. 14 that it was working with the SDF to set up a new 30,000-strong border force in Syria.
Akar was in Brussels to attend a NATO meeting for the defense heads of member states on Jan. 16 and 17, attending the 178th Military Committee in Chiefs of Defense Session at the NATO headquarters.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Akar was expected to meet U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford on Jan. 16 to discuss regional security issues with a particular focus on Syria.
NATO Military Committee Chairman Gen. Petr Pavel on Jan. 16 said the discussions of the Military Committee will focus on reaching a “common understanding of recent developments in the security environment.”
“Military cooperation is important. But only when it is combined with a range of other elements - such as the political, economic, judicial and social - can a sustained and lasting effect be achieved,” Pavel said during the opening remarks of the meeting.
In a statement issued on Jan. 16, NATO said the meeting of the chiefs of defense will “discuss the challenging security environment on NATO’s southern flank and the Alliance’s contribution to its stabilization.”
It said they would also review the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and discuss the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as NATO’s role in Iraq during 2018.
“Meetings with partners Ukraine and Georgia will focus on the security situations on the ground, defense reform progress and the way ahead,” it added.
The Military Committee meets twice a year at the NATO headquarters to discuss the Alliance’s operations and missions and provide the North Atlantic Council with consensus-based military advice on how NATO can best meet global security challenges.