U.S. raised salaries of PKK members in Syria, says Turkish newspaper

The United States has increased the salaries of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members in Syria by $78 per militant, Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak said, citing the Syrian Turkmen Association President Ekrem Dede.

Ankara sees both the PKK and the  Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, as sister organisations. 

The PKK, which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The U.S. support to the YPG has been a source of tension between two NATO allies over the last several years, as for Ankara the territorial gains of the YPG pose national security risks for Turkey. 

According to Yeni Şafak, a U.S. delegation composed of officials from the State Department and the Pentagon visited Syria last month and pledged a $30 million financial aid for the construction of military posts, recruitment of additional fighters, and increasing salaries. 

The U.S. delegation ordered the PKK representatives to increase the number of their fighters to 100,000 till the end of the year, Yeni Şafak quoted Dede as saying. 

Following the meetings between the U.S. delegation, the PKK sent official notification to its fighters that their salaries would be increased to $291 from $213 as of May, the daily said.