Turkey’s top soldier raises YPG concerns at US conference
Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar has expressed concerns about the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria during bilateral meetings on the sidelines of a conference in the United States, a statement from the Turkish Armed Forces said on Oct. 25.
Turkey’s contribution to the ongoing Astana process and its military operations in Syria against the YPG and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were issues discussed at the meetings, read the statement.
He stressed that images emerged after the Raqqa operation, in which a banner of jailed outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan was seen unfurled after the YPG took control over the city, confirms that “they are the arms of the same establishment,” the statement added.
Chiefs of armies, representatives from 73 countries and NATO officials also attended the conference.
Turkey’s top soldier also attended a conference on the fight against violent extremist groups in the U.S. on Oct. 23-24 upon the invitation of Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S.
Dunford said the U.S. stood with its Turkish allies when asked about the YPG raising the banner bearing Öcalan’s face in Raqqa, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 25.
In a press briefing after the Counter-Violent Extremist Organization Conference held in Virginia’s Fort Belvoir military air base, the U.S. top soldier said Washington recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization and shares Turkish authorities’ descriptions regarding the outlawed group.
He also said the U.S. condemns the PKK.
Dunford was accompanied by the U.S. special envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIL, Brett McGurk, who was also asked about the banner and whether he spoke to the YPG on the issue.
McGurk was also asked about the possible steps that the U.S. might take.
Saying he has nothing more to add to Dunford’s comments, McGurk noted that everything has already been said about the issue.