Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Syrian Kurdish forces must be excluded from a ceasefire agreement between the warring sides in Syria.
Comparing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), with Takfiri terror groups in Syria, Erdogan said if Daesh and the al-Nusra Front are kept outside the truce, “then the PYD-YPG must similarly be excluded from the ceasefire for it is a terrorist group just as they are.”
The Turkish president made the comments on Wednesday while speaking to local officials in the capital, Ankara, in a speech broadcast live.
Ankara regards the YPG and PYD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
The YPG, which is nearly in control of Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been fighting against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
The Turkish government is angered by the rapid advance of Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are taking advantage of Russian air cover in the region to capture territory near the Turkish border.
The United States and Russia announced on February 22 that they had reached a deal for a ceasefire in Syria which would begin on February 27. The Syrian government said the following day that it accepts the terms of the ceasefire deal on the basis that military efforts against Daesh and al-Nusra continue.
Syria has been in the midst of deadly turmoil since March 2011. More than 470,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced over the past five years.
Elsewhere in his comments, President Erdogan accused the Russian government of continuing to violate the Turkish airspace, three months after Ankara downed a Russian warplane near the border with Syria.
Moscow and Ankara have been at loggerheads over the developments in Syria. Turkey seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government while Russia has been supporting Damascus in the fight against terrorism.
Tensions between the two sides sharply escalated last November, when Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, claiming that it had entered the Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.
Following the incident, Russia suspended all military deals with Turkey and imposed a list of economic sanctions on the country.