Syria conflict: Turkey says US plea on Kurds ‘unacceptable’

YPG fighters in Syria (file picture)Image copyright Reuters
Image caption YPG fighters have been battling IS militants, but are also being targeted by Turkey

Turkey’s president has strongly rejected US calls for his country to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such statements made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the weekend were “unacceptable”.

Mr Bolton is in Turkey to seek guarantees that Kurds fighting Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria will be safe after a planned US pullout.

Turkey regards the Kurdish YPG militia fighting IS militants as terrorists.

On Tuesday Mr Erdogan told MPs from his AK Party that Turkey could not “accept and swallow” Mr Bolton’s message.

He added that the Americans did not know who the YPG and other Kurdish groups were. “If the US evaluates them as ‘Kurdish brothers’ then they are in a serious delusion,” Mr Erdogan said.

Last month US President Donald Trump shocked allies and faced criticism at home when he announced the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, saying that IS had been “defeated”.

But over the weekend, at the start of his visit to Israel and Turkey, Mr Bolton said the pullout depended on certain conditions.

The US needed to ensure that the Kurdish fighters were safe and that remnants of IS were defeated, he said.

The YPG is the main component of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed group that is credited with playing a major role in the fight against IS.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Erdogan struck a defiant note

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