Syrians fleeing fighting in nearby Tal Abyad gather at the Akcakale border crossing to Turkey on June 14. AFP photo.
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey has reacted angrily at Kurdish forces evicting the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) group from the ethnically Kurdish Syrian town of Gire Sipi (Tal Abyad), saying Ankara will not tolerate demographic changes in the war-torn country.
The Hurriyet Daily reported Monday that Ankara had warned “it will not allow the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and which captured the border town Tal Abyad from ISIL last week, to cross Turkey’s red lines in Syria.”
“The PYD has been informed at the highest level about Turkey’s conditions,” the newspaper quoted a foreign ministry document as saying. “It has been told not to collaborate with the Bashar al-Assad regime and not violate Syria’s territorial integrity,” said the document, which Hurriyet reported had been approved by the Turkish president, prime minister and armed forces.
“The demographic structure of the region cannot be changed through a fait accompli,” Ankara warned, referring to the liberation of Tal Abyad and the autonomy declared by the PYD over Syria’s Kurdish regions.
It accused the PYD of forcing out Turkmens and Arabs in the region and replacing them with Kurds, and warned that Ankara had conveyed its objections to the United States, the United Nations and the UN Security Council.
One week ago, the PYD’s armed wing, together with Arab allies, took full control of Gire Sipi, which lies on the Turkish border. The victory cut off a vital supply line to ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa.
Since then, Turkey’s pro-government media have upped a media campaign that accuses PYD of being “more dangerous” than ISIS.
Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN Turk aired on Sunday, PYD leader Salih Muslim strongly denied accusations of “ethnic cleansing” against Turkmens and Arabs or capturing Gire Sipi with the intention of opening a “Kurdish corridor” in Syria.