Nov 08 2018

YPG not a terrorist organisation, says Washington's Syria envoy

Ambassador James Jeffrey, Washington's Syria envoy, said on Wednesday that unlike Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the United States did not recognise People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria as a terrorist organisation, Anadolu Agency reported

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of PKK, which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years, while YPG forms the backbone of U.S. backed forces in Syria fighting against the Islamic State. 

Washington’s support to Kurdish militia in Syria has been a contentious issue between and Turkey, despite a recent bilateral deal struck in June over the northwestern city of Manbij which included the withdrawal of YPG forces in Syria.

Turkey announced last week that it was preparing to launch a military operation to the east of River Euphrates in Syria, a territory mostly under the control of Kurdish forces, and started shelling YPG positions.

The United States last week repeatedly called the parties for the de-escalation of the situation in Syria, while it posted a reward for the capture of PKK’s top three leaders on Tuesday.

“Our position against the PKK is clear. Contrary to the PKK, we do not define the YPG as a terrorist organisation. We have never done that,” Jeffrey said. 

“We understand Turkey’s security concerns. We understand its concerns about the ties between the YPG and the PKK. We are acting very carefully as a result of that,” he said, adding that the United States has been doing anything it can to prevent security threats against Turkey in north Syria.  

The United States is continuing to implement the agreement over Manbij, while is carefully screening the weapons provided to the Kurdish militia to ease Turkey’s concerns, he said.