“Those who were shedding blood under the Daesh flag until yesterday have now emerged with a PYD, YPG identity. Nobody has the right to claim they have nothing to do with the PKK,” Erdogan told a meeting in Ankara.The YPG is as an extension of the PKK terrorist group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.
U.S. Central Command earlier re-tweeted a statement by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which has U.S. support and which includes the YPG, saying it was not part of the PKK.
The U.S. has provided military support for groups in Syria, such as the SDF, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Defense Units (YPG), to combat Daesh. The YPG is a wing of the PYD, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK.
Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department described Washington’s alliance with the SDF and PYD as “tactical support.”
Washington has coordinated airstrikes with these groups, and provided weapons and military training.
In October 2015, U.S. planes airdropped 50 tons of ammunition in 100 discrete bundles to the SDF. About 50 U.S. special forces operatives also arrived later that month in PYD territory to train and equip its fighters. In early 2016, the U.S. took over an expanded airstrip south of Rumelian, a PYD-controlled town, to more easily deliver weapons to the SDF. PYD and SDF troops have an alliance, and fight side by side.
Though the PYD, YPG and SDF deny their links to the PKK, the International Crisis Group has reported that PKK figures exert influence, noting that the PKK leadership “exerts authority over the YPG.”
It is difficult to believe that the SDF, a group backed by the YPG, could be free of the PKK’s influence.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the European Union and the United States, has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade conflict.