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Kurdish militants aim to capture Syrian region, not fighting Daesh: Turkish FM

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)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (Photo by Reuters)

The Turkish foreign minister says a US-backed Kurdish militant group fighting in northern Syria aims to conquer the region under the cover of battling the Daesh Takfiri terror group.

In his speech on Thursday, Mevlut Cavusoglu said recent developments in Syria’s Raqqah show that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is more concerned about capturing the territory than fighting the terrorist group.

The YPG is part of a larger coalition of fighters — the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — which has been engaged in operations aimed at liberating Raqqah. The US considers the SDF, which also includes Arab militants, as its main proxy force fighting on the ground in Syria.

Turkey has been on a collision course with the US in Syria, with Ankara sharply criticizing Washington over its support for the YPG forces in the operation in Raqqah, which serves as the main Daesh bastion in the Arab country.

Earlier this month, Turkey condemned as “an extremely grave revelation” the potential escape of hundreds of terrorists from Raqqah, saying it underscored the perils of Washington’s alliance with Kurdish militants.

The SDF said over 3,000 civilians had left Raqqah on 14 October as part of a deal negotiated between officials from the provisional Raqqah Civil Council and Syrian Kurdish militants. 

The Kurdish group announced last month that it had defeated Daesh in Raqqah and three days later said that it had fully recaptured the city from the terror group, following a military operation, which was launched in July without Damascus’ approval.   

Cavusoglu’s remarks come despite various reports that Ankara has been supporting the Takfiri militants in Syria.

Earlier in October, Qatar’s former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim revealed how the United States coordinated support by Doha, Riyadh and Ankara for militants operating against the Syrian government over the past years.

Hamad said Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey sent their weapons for militant groups in Syria via the US military forces in the region.

Elsewhere in his Thursday’s remarks, Cavusoglu said procurement of defense equipments from US is being delayed in the United States, saying that Turkey is developing alternative solutions.

“We are unfortunately facing important delays in the procurement of defense equipment we urgently need in the fight against terror from the United States due to US internal practices,” according to the text of his speech seen by Reuters.

“Evidently, as these periods are prolonged, we are developing alternative means to acquire the equipment and systems we require, primarily through our own national resources,” he said.

Ankara fears that the Kurdish militants would permanently hold parts of land in northern Syria after Daesh is routed.

Referring to that possibility, President Erdogan said recently, “I want the entire world to know that in northern Syria, on our border, we are never going to allow a terrorist state to be established.”

Back in September, the political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Syrian forces would fight any force, including the US-backed militia, to fully liberate the Arab country plagued with terrorism for over six years.

“Whether it’s the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), or Daesh or any illegitimate foreign force in the country... we will fight and work against them so our land is freed completely from any aggressor,” Bouthaina Shaaban said.

Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqah, Syria, July 3, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

She added that the US-backed SDF forces had managed to capture areas in northeastern Syria from Daesh “without any fighting,” implying that the Takfiri militants were working hand in glove with the SDF to take oil-rich areas.

Turkey and Kurds harbor historical hostilities toward one another. Ankara considers Kurdish populations, whether in Syria, Iraq, or Turkey itself, as “terrorist” groups bent on taking away territory from Turkish soil.

Ankara views the YPG as a terror organization linked to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has long been fighting for the establishment of an independent Kurdish state.

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. They also support some groups, such as the SDF, claiming that they help them in their alleged fight against Daesh terrorists.

Different foreign-backed terrorist groups have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011. The government controls the main urban centers in the west of the country and has recaptured much of the eastern desert from Daesh in recent months.

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