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Published On: Thu, Jan 11th, 2018

Turkey summons United States envoy over military training to YPG in Syria

nsnbc : Turkey, on January 10, summoned the charge d’affairs of the United States Embassy in Ankara, Philip Kosnett, over reports that U.S. troops started training the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. The United States is supporting the YPG which is the main force within the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey designates the YPG as a terrorist organization allied and on par with Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Expecting an invasion by Turkey or Turkey-backed islamists, the YPG established its Eight Military Regiment in Afrin.

Expecting an invasion by Turkey or Turkey-backed islamists, the YPG established its Eight Military Regiment in Afrin.

Ankara’s move to summon the US’ d’affairs came after U.S. troops were reported to have begun providing military training to some 400 YPG fighters. he new force would reportedly be deployed in the Syria – Turkey border region where the YPG, Turkey’s military, and Turkey-backed militants have been fighting since Ankara, last year, launched a number of attacks into YPG controlled territory in Afrin.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman confirmed the meeting occurred but said “beyond that we aren’t going to read out any details of the conversation.” In a telephone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late November, U.S. President Donald Trump had assured the Turkish government that he will instruct Pentagon to stop delivering weapons to the YPG. The YPG is with its approximately 60.000 troops the main constituent of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. However, there is nothing to conclusively suggest that cooperation between the U.S. and the YPG has been discontinued.

In November 2017 Turkish President R. Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin had to be cleared of terrorists while the YPG announced the formation of its 8th military regiment in Afrin.

Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to launch an invasion of Afrin. There are regular clashes between Turkey-backed insurgents under the umbrella of the remnants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other militia, in some cases directly backed by Turkish troops and the YPG.

Washington considers the SDF and by extension the YPG as its main ally in the fight against ISIS. Turkey designates the PYD, the YPG and the all-female YPJ as terrorist organizations allied and on par with Turkey’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

“Afrin needs to be cleared of the YPG terror group,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in November, adding that Turkish troops needed to be deployed there as in Idlib province. “Otherwise, different terror groups will occupy the area,” he added. Erdogan also slammed the United States over its support for the YPG, saying former president Barack Obama had failed to keep his promises while under Donald Trump Washington had continued to cooperate with the same group under the name Syria Democratic Forces (SDF).

“It was a big disappointment for us that America has not kept its promises, to a large extent, since the start of the Syrian crisis,” he added. “We don’t want to enter into the same game in Afrin. A problem that we could solve quite easily together as allies is being dragged out by American intransigence,” he added. Turkey has watched from the sidelines as towns including Raqqa have been recaptured from jihadists by the SDF – an it is worth mentioning that these jihadists once were overtly, later covertly supported by both Turkey and the USA.

Ironically, Erdogan unintentionally revealed just that ploy when he also scoffed at the idea that the United States was fighting against Islamic State (IS) jihadists. “That’s the headline. But what did you do? You paid a lot of dollars to Daesh (IS),” he said, reaffirming an claim he has raised in the past and has been rubbished by Washington. Erdogan wasn’t so frank with regard to Turkey’s support of ISIS and – according to a source close to Saad Hariri – Erdogan’s direct participation in the decision to invade Syria with ISIS – but at least – in his dispute with Washington, he reveals at least part of the truth.

The YPG , for its part, is bolstering its military capabilities in response to previous and anticipation of coming attacks from Turkey. On Sunday the YPG  formed its eight regiment in Afrin region with participation of 234 fighters. The YPG reported, also in November:

The eight regiment of Martyr Bahoz Efrin, who’d been martyred repelling Turkish army’s attacks on Afrin Canton a while ago, was established yesterday soon after the completion of a 40-days military and ideological training. Fighters had been trained on weaponry and martial arts, along with a variety of ideological courses about Democratic Nation Thesis on which Rojava’s Self-Administration structure based.

The graduation hall was decorated with pictures of the fighters, and to Ankara’s anger and Washington’s embarrassment, pictures of the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan, as well as flags of the People’s and Women’s Protection Units YPG and YPJ. Ceremony was attended by hundreds in Afrin including civil and military authorities. The graduates then offered a military parade and swore the oath to protect the territory of the canton.

CH/L – nsnbc 11.01,2018

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