Turkey at Odds With NATO Allies Over Role of Kurds in Fight Against ISIL
Turkey is poised "to do what is necessary" in order to prevent Kurds from declaring autonomy in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, located near the Turkish border, the country's President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by media reports as saying.
Advances made by autonomy-seeking Syrian Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have irritated Ankara, which sees their plans as a threat to Turkey's national security and says it could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.
Earlier, Turkish fighter jets attacked the Syrian Kurds' armed People's Protection Units (YPG) several times after they defied Ankara's orders not to cross the Euphrates River's western area. The YPG fighters and their Kurdish Peshmerga allies in northern Iraq have played a key role in fighting ISIL.
In light of its failure to find partners in Syria to fight ISIL, Al Nusra and other terrorist organizations, the US has sought to work together with the YPG. Retired General John Allen testified before Washington's Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US Mideast strategy, where he said the US was in a "very delicate, diplomatic process" in trying to work with Turkey and the YPG at the same time. Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is affiliated with the PYD, remains designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department.
However, Erdogan blamed the PYD for conducting "ethnic cleansing" in the area, saying that Western support for the Syrian Kurdish militias is tantamount to backing terrorism.
He also said that Turkey is "determined to fight anything that threatens us along the Syrian border, inside or out."
His remarks came as Turkey launched a two-front military campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.