Turkish defence minister blasts U.S. soldiers over photo with YPG members - AA
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Saturday slammed the U.S. military over a photo of U.S. soldiers having dinner with members of the mostly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) members in Syria, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
"These photos have found wide coverage in our media and disturbed our people. They tarnished the image of the U.S. and its army... for the Turkish public," the agency quoted Akar as saying at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada.
"We expect U.S. to stop cooperation with the YPG terror group as promised."
Ankara sees the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over 30 years, and designates it a terrorist organisation.
The photo dated Nov.11 shows U.S. soldiers stationed in Manbij -- in northern Syria, near the Turkish border -- having a U.S. Veterans Day dinner with members of the YPG.
The YPG forms the backbone of U.S. backed forces in Syria fighting against the Islamic State and Washington’s support for the group has been a contentious issue Washington and Ankara, despite a recent bilateral deal struck in June over the northwestern city of Manbij, which included the withdrawal of YPG forces in Syria.
"It is unacceptable for the U.S. to provide arms and ammunition by plane and trucks to the YPG terrorist group even when Daesh has been neutralized to a large extent," the Turkish defense minister noted, underscoring that Turkey would never allow a terror corridor along its southern border, in an apparent reference to the Kurdish militants, including the YPG, in the region.
Akar also revealed new details about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey, the Halifax International Security Forum reported via its Twitter account.
‘’There is a possibility they committed the murder and then after that, three or four hours, they left Turkey,’’ Akar was quoted as saying.
Turkey accuses Riyadh of sending an execution team to the İstanbul consulate, where the killing of the U.S. resident Washington Post contributor is reported to have taken place, on Oct. 2.
‘’Because of diplomatic immunity, they had no problem. Perhaps they carried parts of the bodies with them,’’ Akar added.
U.S. intelligence concluded late Friday that the Kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, personally ordered the execution of 59-year-old Khashoggi.