It's Irrational to Claim Turkey Targets Kurds, Erdogan Spokesman Says

Erdogan's spokesman claims Ankara only targets ISIS and Kurdish militia groups amid efforts by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton to safeguard the Kurds

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, January 3, 2019.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, January 3, 2019.Credit: Burhan Ozbilici/AP Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Sunday it was irrational to claim Turkey targets Kurds, saying Ankara's targets were the militants of Islamic State and the Kurdish groups YPG and PKK, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported. 

Ibrahim Kalin's comments emerged after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials this week, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that the Kurds must be safeguarded. 

>>Read more: Trump accuses Syria's Kurds of selling oil to Iran then vows to protect them | Opinion 

Bolton added a new condition on Sunday to the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the U.S.'s Kurdish allies. 

U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to announce a U.S. pull-out from Syria left open many questions, chiefly whether Kurds fighters operating in northern Syria would now be targetted by their long-time enemy Turkey. 

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum so they don't endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president's requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered," Bolton told reporters ahead of talks with Israeli officials. 

Bolton, who will travel from Israel to Turkey from on Monday, said the United States will talk to Turkey to find out what its objectives and capabilities were. 

But Bolton said Trump's position is Turkey may not kill the Kurds and that the U.S. withdrawal would not take place without an agreement on that.