Turkey says US vowed to stop arming Kurds
The United States has pledged to stop supplying weapons to a Kurdish militia in Syria, Turkey said on Saturday, calling on Washington to immediately remove its troops from a Syrian town of Manbij that Turkish forces plan to target, Reuters reported.
Turkey’s air and ground offensive in northwest Syria’s Afrin region against the Kurdish YPG militia has opened a new front in the seven-year, multi-sided Syrian civil war and strained ties with NATO ally Washington, Reuters added.
Ankara views the YPG as terrorists and as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and has been infuriated by U.S. support, including arms and training, for the militia. The Kurdish fighters have played a prominent role in U.S.-led efforts to combat the hardline Islamic State in Syria.
Since the start of the eight-day-old incursion, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkish forces would push east toward the town of Manbij, potentially putting them in confrontation with U.S. troops deployed there, Reuters explained.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, in a telephone call that the United States would no longer provide weapons to the YPG, the Turkish presidency said on Saturday as cited by Reuters.
“It was emphasized that Turkey’s legitimate security concerns must be paid attention to. It was agreed that close coordination would be carried out in order to avoid misunderstandings,” it said.
Reuters said Turkey’s foreign minister said the United States needed to follow up its promise with concrete action, including the immediate withdrawal of its troops from the vicinity of Manbij.
“The United States needs to break its link with (the) terrorist organization and make them drop their weapons completely. They need to collect the weapons they gave, they need to withdraw from Manbij immediately,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters on Saturday, Reuters added.