US rejects Turkish president’s remarks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Barack Obama (R) called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to offer condolences for the Wednesday bomb attack in Ankara. (File photo)

The United States has rejected Turkey’s claims that US weapons had ended up in the hands of Daesh Takfiri terrorists, the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) based in Syria.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had told President Barack Obama last month that “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.”

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.

However, the US State Department said on Friday that there is no proof that can corroborate Erdogan’s remarks.

"We have not provided any weapons of any kind to the YPG and we have also seen no evidence to substantiate the claim that the YPG is somehow smuggling US weapons to the PKK," said spokesman Mark Toner.

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.

On Friday, 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 Turkish government also accused the YPG of being behind the Wednesday car bombing in the capital, Ankara, which claimed the lives of 28 people.

However, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), which is a Kurdish militant group once linked to the PKK, claimed responsibility for the bomb attack. TAK said in a statement that the attack was in response to Erdogan’s policies, noting it would continue its assaults.

Obama called Erdogan on Friday to offer condolences for the bomb attack, expressing his concerns over the PYD/YPG's recent advances in northern Syria.

Obama said he had called on the Kurdish group to immediately halt its actions that have created tensions with Turkey.

"President Obama stressed that YPG forces should not seek to exploit circumstances in this area to seize additional territory, and urged Turkey to show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area," a White House statement said.


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