Turkey using ISIS for political gains, says PYD former co-chair Muslim

Turkey leads the way among countries which are using the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist organisations to their political advantage, Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of Syrian’s most dominant Kurdish organisation, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) said.

“There are those who use ISIS and exploit this. They use ISIS along with other radical terror groups for their political gains. Turkey leads the way [among such countries]. We see what is happening in Idlib. They have gathered all terrorist organisations and are using them,’’ Muslim told left-wing news site Artı Gerçek.

Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria, is a major source of dispute between pro-opposition Turkey and pro-Bashar Assad Russia. Local reports indicate that Turkey has provided new supplies of weaponry to the opposition groups amid bombings by the Assad regime and Russian forces which intensified over the past few weeks.

The PYD is the political arm of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia, which has formed the backbone of Washington’s war on ISIS in Syria.

The PYD has also has been a driving force behind the establishment of a de facto autonomous Kurdish-controlled region in Northern  Syria. The Turkish government considers it to be a terror organisation due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency in Turkey’s southeast since the 1980’s.

Muslim stressed that the war against ISIS continued in the region and said jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan would play an active role in finding a solution for peace in Syria.

Underscoring that the states involved in conflict in Syria are only acting in their own interests, Muslim said Öcalan, “with his democratic ideas, evaluations and suggestions,’’ could change the current situation.

Turkey earlier this month lifted a ban on lawyers visiting the jailed PKK leader, two weeks after the first such visit was allowed since 2011.

Öcalan has been imprisoned on an island near Istanbul since he was captured in 1999.