US: We will back Kurdish YPG forces despite Turkey’s concerns

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Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPJ and YPG. File photo

ARA News 

KOBANE – The United States will continue to work with Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), despite Turkey’s concerns, a US State Department Spokesperson said on Friday.

Turkish government officials have criticized US troops for wearing patches of the Kurdish YPG forces. Although the US government sees the YPG as one of the most effective groups in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), the Turkish government sees the YPG as a terrorist group connected to the PKK. However, the Syrian Kurds say that the Turkish government has been supporting ISIS and other jihadist groups since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.

“The support they give to… the YPG (militia)… I condemn it,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday during an airport ceremony in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. “Those who are our friends, who are with us in NATO… cannot, must not send their soldiers to Syria wearing YPG insignia.”

Mark Toner, US State department spokesperson said on Friday that they will continue to work with the YPG despite of the Turkish government opposition towards Kurdish-US cooperation. 

“Now, are there disagreements among members of the coalition as to how we proceed and with whom we’re cooperating on the ground? I’m not going to say that there aren’t. And obviously, Turkey’s made very clear their feelings about the YPG [People’s Protection Units]. We have also been equally clear, while we understand Turkey’s concerns, that we’re going to continue to work with the YPG as a part of the overarching Syrian Democratic Forces. So the YPG is not the sole group that we’re working with on the ground. We’re working with Syrian Arabs, Syrian Turkmen, and other groups that are fighting Daesh,” said Mark Toner, US State department spokesman. 

“With respect to Turkey’s comments about these photos, we’ve been very clear from this podium and elsewhere, our belief that the YPG is not connected to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party], which we have designated as a foreign terrorist organization. On the contrary, we believe the YPG, as well as other forces in Syria, in northern Syria, are effectively taking the fight to ISIL and we’re going to continue to support them with our advise and assist operations there,” he added.

Nevertheless, the US says they understand Turkey’s concerns. “And we continue to discuss this as well as other concerns that Turkey has regarding Daesh and regarding issues in northern – concerning northern Syria. We’re going to continue to work through those, such as providing stronger border security as well as other aspects that we – where we feel we can strengthen the relationship with Turkey. But Turkey’s been a member of the anti-Daesh coalition, continues to be an active member, and we – we’re grateful for Turkey’s support,” he said.

Moreover, the US government will continue to work with Turkey to combat the PKK. “(…)We continue to maintain that the PKK is a designated terrorist organization and we work with Turkey in sharing intelligence and other things in combating the PKK. We take a separate view on the YPG,” he added.

“And we believe, as I said, in the context of northern Syria and in the context of our battle to defeat and degrade Daesh in northern Syria, we view them as an effective partner along with other members of the Syrian Democratic Forces,” the spokesperson said.

However, the US has ordered the special forces to stop the use of YPG patches. “I think the first thing to make clear is that wearing those YPG patches was — was unauthorized and it was inappropriate and corrective action has been taken, and we have communicated as much to our military partners and our military allies in the region,” said Colonel Steve Warren, Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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