Turkey has accused the United States of backing “terrorist groups” in Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he had evidence that US-led coalition forces give support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and Kurdish groups, namely the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“They were accusing us of supporting Daesh,” he told a press conference in Ankara, using the Arabic abbreviation for ISIL.
“Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It is very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos, and videos,” he said, without elaborating further about the evidence in question.
The US state department dismissed Erdogan’s statement as “ludicrous”. Spokesman Mark Toner said there was no basis for such an accusation.
Also, the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Turkey published a notice on the accusations, including:
“There is considerable misinformation circulating in Turkish media concerning U.S. and Coalition operations against ISIL in Syria. For those interested in the truths, here are the truths:
The United States government is not supporting DAESH. The USG did not create or support DAESH in the past. Assertions the United States government is supporting DAESH are not true.
The United States government has not provided weapons or explosives to the YPG or the PKK – period. We repeatedly have condemned PKK terrorist attacks and the group’s reprehensible violence in Turkey.
As we have throughout the campaign against ISIL, we continue to work closely with our counterparts in the Turkish government to determine how we can increase our efforts to defeat ISIL and eliminate this scourge that threatens both our peoples. This includes ongoing discussions about how we can best support Syrian opposition and Turkish forces engaging ISIL around al Bab. Like Turkey, the United States also has experienced attacks by ISIL supporters. We mourn the losses that the Turkish Republic has suffered in facing this and other threats from terrorism,” the notice of the US Embassy in Turkey stated.
Immediately after that, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “The coalition which the U.S. is in, has not been giving aerial support to our Euphrates Shield operation since a particular timeframe. The U.S. is providing arms to the YPG and PYD, period. If they say so, this is what I’m saying, it is very clear,”
“They also know very well that the U.S. is providing arms to the YPG especially for their fight against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and we know it very well. We have documents in our hands and everyone in the world knows it. Therefore we have to be honest, firstly. I mean, if they say ‘We have provided arms up to now and we understood that we made a mistake,’ that is OK. But the U.S. has provided arms to the YPG, period,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkish Foreign Minister’s remarks came a day after the U.S. Embassy in Ankara stated that it did not provide weapons to the YPG.
Galip Dalay, a columnist and analyst on Turkish and Kurdish affairs, said the sharp statement by Erdogan is an expression of disappointment in President Barack Obama’s Syria policy.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests — which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings — with unexpected ferocity.