U.S. Making Conflicting Statements Over Syrian Kurdish YPG, Turkish FM Says

Mevlut Cavusoglu said John Kerry had told him the Kurdish insurgents could not be trusted, in what Cavusoglu said was a departure from U.S. official position.

Daren Butler
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Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters.
Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters.Credit: AP
Daren Butler

REUTERS - Turkey's foreign minister accused the United States on Friday of making conflicting statements about the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, in a sign of deepening divisions between the NATO allies over policy in Syria.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had told him the Kurdish insurgents could not be trusted, in what Cavusoglu said was a departure from Washington's official position.

Washington's support of the YPG in the fight against Islamic State in Syria has enraged Ankara, which fears advances by the Kurdish militia in northern Syria would stoke separatism among its own Kurdish minority. Turkey says the YPG was responsible for a car bombing in Ankara that killed 28 people this week.

"Resorting to terrorist groups like the YPG in the fight against Daesh in Syria is above all a sign of weakness," Cavusoglu said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamist group. "Everyone must stop this mistake. In particular our ally the United States must stop this mistake immediately."

He was speaking at a news conference in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and his comments were carried live on Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber.

"My friend Kerry said the YPG cannot be trusted," Cavusoglu said. "When you look at some statements coming from America, conflicting and confused statements are still coming.... We were glad to hear from John Kerry yesterday that his views on the YPG have partly changed."

The United States has said it does not consider the YPG a terrorist group. A spokesman for the State Department said on Thursday Washington was not in a position to either confirm or deny Turkey's charge the YPG was behind the Ankara bombing attack.

He also called on Turkey to stop its recent shelling of the YPG. The YPG's political arm has denied the group was behind the bombing and said Turkey was using the attack to justify an escalation in fighting in northern Syria.

A car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses as they waited at traffic lights near Turkey armed forces' headquarters in the administrative heart of Ankara late on Wednesday.

So far, authorities have detained 17 people in connection with the bombing and there was evidenced they were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), state-run Anadolu Agency reported, citing sources from the Ankara prosecutor's office.

Separately, security force members caught two people in a car loaded with 500 kg of explosives on Thursday evening in the Dicle district of the city of Diyarbakir in the mainly Kurdish southeast, security sources said.

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