U.S. Must Extradite Syrian Kurdish Commander, Says Turkish Official

U.S. senators urged the State Department earlier this week to quickly provide a visa to General Mazloum Kobani so he can visit the U.S. to discuss Syria

Mazloum Kobani, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), gives a press conference near the northeastern Syrian Hassakeh province on October 24, 2019.
AFP

U.S. authorities must extradite the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to Turkey when he enters the United States, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said Friday after Ankara slammed Washington for treating him as a "legitimate political figure."

Republican and Democratic U.S. senators urged the State Department on Wednesday to quickly provide a visa to General Mazloum Abdi (Kobani) so he can visit the United States to discuss Syria. Ankara says he is a terrorist linked to Kurdish militants waging an insurgency in Turkey.

Speaking to reporters, Gul said Turkey will demand that U.S. authorities detain Mazloum as soon as he enters the United States. He said the foreign ministry had conveyed the extradition request to the United States.

Despite U.S. President Donald Trump's lifting of sanctions on Turkey, distrust persists between Ankara and Washington, one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top aids on Thursday criticised U.S. politicians for treating SDF commander Mazloum Kobani as a "legitimate political figure."

The aide, Fahrettin Altun, told Reuters that Mazloum was a senior leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey and which Ankara's Western allies also deem a terrorist group.