ANKARA – Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Tuesday urged other countries, particularly the United States, to cease any support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.
“We tell all our interlocutors, especially the U.S., that the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) equals the YPG. We insistently demand the cessation of all support to the terrorists,” Akar told the Turkish parliament.
Ties between the two NATO allies have long been strained due to U.S. military support to the YPG, which cooperated with Washington in operations against the Islamic State.
Akar emphasized that Turkey’s recent aerial operations into northern Syria and northern Iraq were in line with international law, respected sovereign rights and territorial integrity of its neighboring countries, and targeted only the “terrorists.”
Turkey carried out an aerial operation on Sunday against the YPG in northern Syria and the PKK in northern Iraq.
The “Operation Claw-Sword” was “the largest, most comprehensive and most effective aerial operation” of Turkey, the minister said.
The aerial strikes were launched after a bomb explosion in a busy street of Turkey’s largest city Istanbul on Nov. 13, in which at least six people were killed and another 81 injured.
After the explosion, Turkish police said they had detained a Syrian woman named Ahlam Albashir, who admitted to taking orders from the YPG, which Ankara considered to be the Syrian branch of the PKK.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU, has rebelled against the Turkish government for over three decades.