US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) spoke by phone on Friday. Photos: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again urged the US to end its ties with Kurds in Syria.
Erdogan spoke with US President Donald Trump by phone, his office announced on Friday evening.
The Turkish president “expressed his expectations from the USA to end support for the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK,” his office stated.
US support for Kurdish YPG and SDF forces in the war against ISIS in northern Syria has enraged Ankara, which considers the groups to be branches of the PKK.
The US has long maintained that the YPG and SDF, and the political party the PYD, are distinct from the PKK.
Ankara has accused Washington of supporting terrorists and has threatened military action against the Kurdish groups.
the demands of Turkey with the needs in the war against ISIS has meant greater American involvement on the ground in northern Syria, US Ambassador James Jeffrey said on Thursday.
Because of Turkey’s objections, the US has not given heavy weaponry to their Kurdish allies, instead having to supply that themselves, he explained.
Turkey is hoping that Washington’s attitude may be shifting, however.
In his same speech, Jeffrey described the Syrian Kurds as an “offshoot” of the PKK – a first for a member of Trump’s administration.
Washington also recently announced bounties on the heads of three senior PKK leaders, collectively totaling $12 million.
Analysts have posited the US may have increased pressure on the PKK in a bid to ease Turkish demands against the Kurds in Syria where they are engaged in an intense battle to defeat the last pocket of ISIS militants.
Erdogan and Trump agreed that joint Turkey-US patrols in the Manbij area – designed to prevent Turkish aggression against Kurds in the city – are proceeding satisfactorily and discussed the need to complete their roadmap for Manbij “as soon as possible,” read the Turkish statement of their phone call.
The Whitehouse has not immediately issued a readout of their conversation.