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US-supplied arms in hands of Daesh, Turkish president says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, February 19, 2016. (Reuters)

Turkey’s president says weapons supplied by the United States have ended up in the hands of Daesh Takfiri terrorists as well as the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) based in Syria.

“Months ago in my meeting with him (US President Barack Obama), I told him the US was supplying weapons. Three plane loads arrived, half of them ended up in the hands of Daesh, and half of them in the hands of the PYD/YPG,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in Istanbul.

Erdogan was apparently referring to a US air drop of 28 bundles of military supplies in late 2014 meant for Iraqi Kurdish fighters near the Syrian city of Kobani. Pentagon officials said at the time one had fallen into the hands of Daesh militants.

“I will share my concerns with Mr. Obama when I talk with him. We will discuss these matters in detail. I will tell him, look at how and where those weapons you provided were fired.”

“Against whom were those weapons used?” the Turkish president asked, “They were used to fire on civilians in that area. They caused the death of people living in that area. Why did that happen? How can anyone justify this? Is it possible? The truth is there.”

Erdogan said he was disappointed with the West for refusing to call the PYD a terrorist group.

Ankara regards the YPG and PYD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

The Turkish government is angered by the rapid advance of Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are taking advantage of Russian air cover in the region to capture territory near the Turkish border.

The comments by Erdogan came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Washington to break ties with the Kurdish fighters, saying that “resorting to terrorist groups like the YPG is above all a sign of weakness.”

The United States and its allies have been engaged in a campaign that is purportedly against Daesh positions in Syria since 2014. Many have questioned the effectiveness of the airstrikes as civilian targets have been hit in most cases. The US-led campaign began without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.

Ankara, itself, is widely accused of recruiting, training and arming Takfiri militants, as well as, buying smuggled oil from Daesh.

Bomb blast in Ankara

The Turkish government accused the YPG of being behind a car bombing in the capital, Ankara, on February 17. Nearly 30 people were killed.

However, a Kurdish militant group once linked to the PKK claimed responsibility Friday for the bomb attack.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) said in a statement on its website that the attack was in response to the policies of the Erdogan administration. TAK vowed to continue its assaults.

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