Turkish PM slams US over alleged permission for ISIL to leave Raqqa
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has once again criticized the United States’ ongoing alliance with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), after reports that the Syrian Kurdish group made a deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for the re-capture of Raqqa.
“Some have let [ISIL terrorists] leave Raqqa with their weapons instead of eliminating them from the city. Terrorists left with their weapons and the YPG-PKK has replaced them. One terror group left Raqqa and another settled there. Is this your rational policy? Is this your strategic, tactical cooperation?”
Yıldırım said during a parliamentary group meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Nov. 14.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG fighters that Ankara sees as organically linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), announced the liberation of Raqqa from ISIL on Oct. 17.
However, the BBC has reported that a deal was struck between the SDF and ISIL to help thousands of fighters and their families escape from Raqqa along with their weapons and ammunition.
The evacuation convoy reportedly consisted of nearly 50 trucks and 13 buses, along with more than 100 vehicles of ISIL.
Prime Minister Yıldırım said Turkey has repeatedly warned the U.S. not to collaborate with “one terrorist group in order to fight another terrorist group.”
“Now we see the results. The escaped [ISIL] members will be the reason for the deaths of innocent people in every corner of the world, including Turkey, Europe and America,” he added.
When asked about the report, the U.S. Department of Defense Spokesman on Iraq and Syria said Washington “respected the agreement.”
Meanwhile, referring to his recent meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, Prime Minister Yıldırım stressed that Turkey “does not intent further strain or worsen ties” with the U.S.
”We want to maintain a positive agenda with the U.S.,” he said, adding that Ankara expects a normalization of visa services with the U.S. soon.
The Turkey-U.S. visa row was sparked on Oct. 8 when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services to Turkish nationals within Turkey, prompted a tit-for-tat retaliation from Ankara.
The embassy’s move came after the arrest of Metin Topuz, a local employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.