(UR) New York — On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the United States of supplying weapons to Kurdish YPG fighters — whom Turkey has been battling for decades — in the northern Syrian city of Kobani, Reuters reports.
“Three days ago America dropped two plane loads of weapons in Kobani for these terror groups,” President Erdoğan said while in New York. The coziness between the United States and the Kurdish YPG is a growing source of friction in northern Syria, as Reuters explains:
“Erdogan’s comments are likely to add to the tension between Turkey and the United States over Syria, where Washington backs the Kurdish YPG forces against Islamic State.
“Turkey is part of the U.S.-coalition against Islamic State but views the Syrian Kurdish YPG and its PYD political wing as an extension of Kurdish militants who have waged a three-decade insurgency on its own soil.”
Erdoğan also made known what he thought of the United States’ choice for an ally, while in New York, stating: “If you think you can finish off Daesh with the YPG and PYD, you cannot, because they are terrorist groups too.”
In late August, in a joint action with U.S.-led coalition forces called Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey rolled tanks across its southern border. The purported mission was to take out ISIS, but once in northern Syria, Turkish forces took aim at YPG fighters in Jarabulus.
What’s more, once Turkish fighters secured Jarabulus, they “demanded” the United States move their friends the Kurds to the eastern side of the Euphrates River. And the U.S. was quick to act. Reported Reuters in August:
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone on Thursday that YPG fighters were retreating to the east side of the Euphrates, as Turkey has demanded, foreign ministry sources in Ankara said.”
If the U.S. was shocked by Turkey’s bold move, it shouldn’t have been. Erdoğan had said from the beginning that targeting Kurds was part of the reason he signed on to Euphrates Shield in the first place.
Erdoğan’s accusations on Thursday come as the fighting in Aleppo intensifies. On Friday, it was reported that heavy airstrikes from the Russian-backed Syrian military pounded rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo.
The latest ceasefire between the pro-Assad Syrian military and the U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo collapsed Monday. Two days before that, a U.S. airstrike killed 62 Syrian soldiers in what was claimed to be an accident. Following that, a U.N. aid convoy was attacked near Aleppo. Over a dozen humanitarian aid workers were killed.
On Thursday, Syrian state media announced a new offensive against the rebels dug into Aleppo had begun.
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