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Erdogan calls on US to reverse bid to arm Kurdish militants in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photos by AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Washington to immediately overturn its decision to arm Kurdish militants that Ankara regards as members of a terrorist group.

"I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately," Erdogan stated on Wednesday, following an announcement by the US that it intends to supply arms to the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) in the battle against Daesh militants in Syrian territory, AFP reported.

Erdogan further emphasized that he would mention the issue in upcoming discussions with US President Donald Trump when the two are scheduled to meet in Washington on May 16 in their first formal encounter as heads of state.

File photo shows a US military officer (R) from the so-called US-led coalition, which is purportedly fighting Daesh, speaking with a YPG militant.

"I will personally express our worries in a detailed way when we talk with President Trump on May 16," said the Turkish leader, noting that he would also bring up the issue during a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25.

"We want to believe that our allies would prefer to be side by side with ourselves rather than with the terror groups," Erdogan further said, adding that whatever happens in Syria and Iraq is a matter of "national security" for Turkey.

The development came shortly after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed resentment over Washington’s plans to arm the YPG, underlining that any armaments supplied to the Kurdish forces will constitute a threat to Ankara.  

This file photo taken on April 28, 2017 shows US forces and YPG militants in Syria.

Speaking to reporters while on a visit to Montenegro on Wednesday, Cavusoglu further said that Washington is well aware of Ankara’s position on the YPG and should not take wrong steps in Syria.

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Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been battling to establish an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks against PKK positions in northern Iraq and YPG outposts in Syria over the past few weeks.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came a day after the US Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman Dana White declared in a written statement that Trump had authorized arms shipments to YPG militants.

She further claimed that the US-backed Kurdish militiamen are “the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqah in the near future.”

This is while the Syrian government has censured and protested the US and Turkish support for armed militants in Syria, and has vowed to resist any moves by foreign-sponsored militants to seize territories inside the Arab country.

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