Riled by a meeting between a US official and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls the Syrian town of Kobane, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Washington to choose between Turkey and, as he put it, the “terrorists.”
A delegation featuring Brett McGurk, the United States’ envoy to the coalition it leads against ISIL, met the YPG over the last weekend in January. The YPG took full control of Kobane late last June, in what was a powerful symbol of Kurdish resistance.
“He [Brett McGurk] visits Kobane at the time of the Geneva talks and is awarded a plaque by a so-called YPG general?” Erdogan told reporters on his plane while returning from a trip to Latin America and Senegal, the Beser Haber newspaper reported.
“How can we trust [you]?” Erdogan said.
“Is it me who is your partner, or the terrorists in Kobane?” the Turkish president said, adding that both the PYD and the YPG are “terrorist organizations.” Ankara considers them to be part of the PKK, banned in Turkey as a terrorist group.
According to US officials, the trip appeared to be the first of its kind to northern Syria since 2013. It took place after the YPG’s political wing, Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), was excluded from new peace talks in Geneva. Ankara had threatened to boycott the talks if the PYD were invited.