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Turkey warns US of ‘action’ if support for YPG continues

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)
This handout file picture, taken and released on October 26, 2018 by the Turkish presidential press service, shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gesturing during a speech in Ankara. (Via AFP)

Turkey has warned the United States of unspecified “action” if Washington refuses to stop supporting Kurdish militants based in Syria.

“Turkey will take the necessary action if the US does not take into consideration Ankara’s security concerns regarding the continued arming of the YPG,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday, the Turkish Daily Sabah paper reported.

President Erdogan was referring to the US-backed People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, which is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting a decades-long deadly war against Turkey for an independent state in the country’s southeast.

“The sole target of this terrorist group… is our country. We can no longer stand idle against this threat,” Erdogan said.

Members of the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militant group gather in the town of Shadadi, about 60 kilometers south of the Syrian city of Hassakeh, on September 11, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

President Erdogan had previously complained that the YPG had received thousands of trucks loaded with weaponry from the US and that the weapons would ultimately be used against Turkey. The US claims it arms the militants against the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh.

“It is clear that the aim of those arming tens of thousands of people is not the fight against terror as there is not even one Daesh element left along Turkey’s borders,” the Turkish chief executive said.

Syria and its allies forced Daesh out of its last stronghold in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr late last year.

Ankara, too, has deployed forces to Syria in a declared fight against both Daesh and the Kurdish militants along the Turkish border with Syria.

A test for US

Daily Sabah said “the US partnership with the group in some areas has complicated the possibility of cross-border operations by Turkey as the troops of the two NATO allies can come into armed confrontation.”

It cited Erdogan as saying, “Terrorists who have shown enmity against our country clearly are the only targets for us. This is an opportunity for those claiming to be allies, strategic partners, who want to strengthen relations politically, economically, and militarily and carry them into the future. We will acknowledge that they side with Turkey when they no longer stand as shields in front of terrorists groups.”

Turkey has repeatedly called on Washington to halt its support for the YPG. But President Erdogan’s Tuesday remarks were the sharpest to date from the country’s highest-ranking official.

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