DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:30 PM) – Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech on thursday that Kurdish militants in northern Syria are more concerned with claiming and conquering more of Syrian territory, rather than actually fighting ISIS.
According to Cavusoglu, recent developments have shown that the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) are seeking to increase their hold over the region under the cover of fighting terrorist organisations.
The Kurdish YPG is part of a larger armed militia called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been engaged in battle against ISIS in the north of Syria. The SDF was also the force that drove the terrorist organisation out of Raqqa in July, be it at a staggering cost in terms of civilian casualties. The SDF is actively supported by the United States, and is considered by many to be the main US proxy in Syria.
Turkey has long been at odds with the mainly Kurdish SDF, which it accuses of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkish Kurdistan. The PKK is fighting for secession from Turkey, and is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara. Moreover, between August 2016 and March 2017, Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups were fighting SDF forces in what Turkey called Operation Euphrates Shield.
Earlier this month, Turkey condemned as “an extremely grave revelation” the potential escape of hundreds of terrorists from Raqqah, and accused Kurdish forces of willingly letting ISIS troops leace the city unharmed.
Back in September, Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Syrian forces would fight any force, including the SDF if necessary, in order to fully liberate the Syrian Arab Republic.
“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,” she said.