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Turkey slams UN over signing deal with US-backed SDF militants in Syria

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-sponsored and Kurdish-led militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend the funeral of an Arab fellow fighter, who was killed the previous week in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, in northeastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on April 10, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has strongly condemned the United Nations for signing an agreement over the weekend with the US-sponsored and Kurdish-led militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara views as terrorists.

“It is a calamity for the UN that Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, signed an ‘Action Plan’ with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) terrorist group, the commander of the so-called SDF, Ferhat Abdi Shahin, without the knowledge of UN members in Geneva. We strongly condemn this,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Tuesday.

The statement added that necessary steps have been taken with the UN.

 “It is unacceptable for an organization like the UN, which needs to be at the front row with the fight against terror, to sign an agreement with a terrorist organization. This is also a clear violation of the UN’s own rulings about terrorism,” it pointed out.

The ministry further noted that the UN has confirmed the “gross crimes of the illegal PKK/PYD/YPG against humanity and international law” by signing this agreement.

“It is unacceptable that the UN addressed remarks to a bloody-handed terrorist organization to solve the issue,” the statement read.

On Saturday, Gamba and Mazloum Abdi, Force Commander of the SDF, signed an Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms the backbone of the SDF, has been accused several times of recruiting child soldiers over the course of its purported fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (R), and Mazloum Abdi, Force Commander of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, sign an Action Plan to stop recruiting child soldiers in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 29, 2019. (Photo by the UN)

In its 2018 report on child recruitment in Syria, the UN said 263 boys and 152 girls have been recruited and used by Kurdish groups between 2013 and the first quarter of 2018. 

The United States has long been providing the SDF with arms and militants, calling them a key partner in the alleged campaign against Daesh.

Many observers, however, see the support in the context of Washington’s plans to carve out a foothold in the Arab country. 

Such support has also angered Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey, which views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown PKK militant group.

The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Washington’s support for the Kurdish militants operating at the Turkish doorstep has long been a source of tension between the two NATO allies, prompting Ankara to launch two military operations inside Syria over the past years.

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