Feb 22 2018

Kurds freeing ISIS members to attack Turkey – MP

Kurdish militia groups in Syria backed by the United States and Britain are secretly freeing Islamic State (ISIS) prisoners so they can carry out attacks in Turkey, said Mehdi Eker a senior figure in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“We have good information that YPG/PKK have released some Daesh prisoners to help them in the fight against Turkey, they have been directing them against Turkey.” said Eker, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. “MIT (Turkish intelligence service) has traced and picked up some of these people in Turkey, but some are trying to go home to the Middle East, to Europe.”

Turkey launched an operation a month-ago to clear the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia it sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades. The YPG denies any direct link, but is part of the same umbrella organisation and shares the same ideological leader, Abdullah Öcalan, jailed in Turkey since 1999.

Reports of collusion between Western-backed Kurdish groups in Syria and ISIS are a staple of Turkish media. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested in November that the United States was a major source of ISIS funding.

Kurdish militia and activists rejected the latest allegations of collusion with ISIS as “nonsense” and suggested that Turkey was itself backing jihadist groups in Syria.

“Ever since the Syrian conflict began, Turkey has aligned itself with the wrong side. It cooperated closely with the Ahrar al-Sham group whose leaders were al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. Turkey also lent support to the jihadists from al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. And, until recently, Turkish leaders turned a blind eye to the foreign fighters transiting through their country to join ISIS in Syria,” said Mahmoud Berkhdan, an officer in the Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.

Eker, whose comments were made during a visit to London this week, also complained that by backing Kurdish militias in Syria the West was applying “double standards with terrorism” and criticised the U.S. failure to extradite Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey believes orchestrated the July 2016 abortive coup attempt in Turkey.

“We have given plenty of evidence to the U.S. about FETÖ (Fethullahist Terror Organisation, Turkey’s name for the group), but this guy Gülen is still there under the protection of the U.S. government. We also have double standards with the PKK. It is on the list as a terrorist organisation in the UK, in the EU, in the U.S.. Then why is the PKK allowed to operate openly, propagating, demonstrating in all these countries?”