Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says ‘no concession’ for Syrian Kurds, snubbing US plea
Mr Erdogan says Washington made a “serious mistake” in setting conditions for Turkey’s role after the US withdrawal. (AP: Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkey’s President has rejected US calls to protect their Kurdish allies in Syria, saying there would be “no concession” in Ankara’s push against what he describes as terror groups in the war-torn country.
- Mr Erdogan said preparations for a new military offensive are “to a large extent” complete
- He said Mr Bolton “made a serious mistake” in setting conditions for Turkey’s military role
- Kurdish YPG fighters have been a key ally in the campaign against Islamic State
White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday Turkey must agree to protect the United States’ Kurdish allies following President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision last month to announce a US pull-out from Syria.
Mr Bolton met with Turkish officials on Tuesday to seek assurances Turkey would not attack US allied Kurdish militia in Syria.
But following the meeting, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech to his party MPs Turkey would not “accept or swallow” the request from Mr Bolton, who “made a serious mistake” in setting conditions for Turkey’s military role after the US withdrawal.
“It is not possible for us to make compromises on this point,” Mr Erdogan said.
“Those who are part of the terror corridor in Syria will receive the necessary lesson.”
Mr Erdogan said Turkey’s preparations for a new military offensive against terror groups in Syria were “to a large extent” complete.
Following a phone conversation with Mr Erdogan in December, Mr Trump announced he was bringing home the 2,000 US troops in Syria, saying they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State.
His abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington and allies abroad, and prompted defence secretary Jim Mattis to resign.
Erdogan says Trump supports Kurdish offensive
Mr Erdogan previously said Turkish plans to advance into Kurdish areas of Syria had received a “positive response” from Mr Trump.
“Despite reaching a clear understanding with Mr Trump, different voices have started emerging from different segments of the administration,” Mr Erdogan said.
“Despite that, Trump’s views on Syria and his decision to withdraw remains our point of reference.”
Kurdish YPG fighters have been a key US ally in the campaign against Islamic State, an alliance that has long caused tension between Washington and Ankara.
Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east.
“If the US evaluates them as ‘Kurdish brothers’ then they are in a serious delusion,” Mr Erdogan said.
Turkey insists its military actions are aimed at Kurdish fighters in Syria and not against the Kurdish people.
Syrian Kurdish officials said their fighters are prepared to confront Turkish forces if they enter north-eastern Syria.
Shahoz Hasan, co-chair of the largest Kurdish group in Syria, the Democratic Union Party or PYD, said it was clear from Ankara’s latest statements that Turkey had a plan to go ahead with the offensive in Syria, but added “we will be ready”.