U.S.-YPG relations tactical, U.S.-Turkey strategic - State Dept official

The United States has a stopgap relationship with the Kurdish separatist People's Protection Units (YPG) as a tactical need in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, but U.S.-Turkey relations are ‘long-lasting and strategic’, a U.S. State Department official was quoted as saying by public broadcaster Voice of America’s Turkish service.

Speaking at the Middle East Institute's Turkey conference, Jonathan R. Cohen, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, said that the U.S. and Turkey has common interests in the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, and limiting the influence of Iran and Russia in the region.

Cohen said:

We have a relationship with the [Kurdish militia group] YPG because we felt like we didn't have any alternatives in Syria. We urgently needed a partner force to move ISIS (the Islamic State) from Raqqa, and the force at hand was YPG.

U.S. relation with the Kurdish group will evolve in time, as Syria shifts from war to stability, Cohen said.

In response to a question regarding Turkey’s plan to purchase Russian-made S-400 air defence system, Cohen said they call on Turkey to reconsider its decision.