News ID: 209859
Published: 0249 GMT February 12, 2018

Turkey assails US over ties with Syrian Kurdish militia

Turkey assails US over ties with Syrian Kurdish militia

Turkey's foreign minister assailed the United States on Monday, saying that American forces in Syria are intentionally stalling the fight against the Daesh terror group as an excuse not to cut ties with Syrian Kurdish militiamen as Ankara has demanded.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul that US forces are leaving "pockets" with Daesh terrorists intact to justify continued cooperation with the Kurdish militia, AP reported.

Speaking ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later this week, Cavusoglu said Turkey's ties with the US are at a make-or-break stage and that Washington needs to take "concrete steps" to regain Turkey's trust.

"Our relations are at a very critical stage," Cavusoglu said. "Either we will improve ties or these ties will totally break down."

Ankara is riled over Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG — the top US ally in the fight against the Daesh terror group.

Turkey considers the YPG a "terrorist" group linked to Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey's own borders.

Turkey's military launched a cross-border operation into the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria to rout the YPG from the region.

Ankara has also threatened to expand its offensive to the YPG-held town of Manbij, east of Afrin, where the US has a military presence, setting the scene for a potential showdown between the two NATO allies that back different sides in Syria's complex and multi-layered war.

Meanwhile, Syria's deputy foreign minister has hailed Syria's downing of an Israeli warplane over the weekend as a "military achievement," which he said reflects Syria's determination to defeat its enemies.

The comments by Faisal Mekdad are the first by a senior government official since Syrian air defenses shot down an Israeli F-16 amid Israeli airstrikes that hit targets in Syria on Saturday.

Israel says it launched the airstrikes after it shot down an infiltrating drone. Israel has not confirmed whether its aircraft was actually shot down, which would mark the first such instance for Israel since 1982, in the first Lebanon war.

Mekdad said any party that commits acts of aggression against Syria will "suffer the same fate."




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