Kerry says US strongly respects Turkey's concerns over YPG

US Secretary of State John Kerry states that Obama administration has been highly careful and attentive of Turkey’s concerns over PYD, YPG activities in northern Syria and groups' connections with PKK terrorist organisation

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee in Washington on Feb. 24, 2016.

The US administration has been paying particular attention to Turkey's concerns in northern Syria regarding the activities of the PYD and its militant wing the YPG, President Barack Obama’s top diplomat said on Thursday.

Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers during a hearing of House Foreign Relations Committee that the US has been talking "considerably" with Turkey and is "very sensitive" over Turkey’s insistence that there are connections between the PKK terrorist organisation and the PYD.

Turkey considers the PYD to be the Syrian extension of the PKK and a terrorist group though the US administration regards the PYD as an ally in the fight against DAESH. This has recently led to growing tension between Ankara and Washington over policy in northern Syria.

Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its eastern and southeastern regions by the PKK which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO, and the EU.

"We need to respect Turkey's concerns, and we will, we have, we believe," Kerry stressed.

"Going forward is very important that there not be a different problem created by the short-term solution of working with the Kurds, and then that creates a longer-term challenge for all of us in the region. So we're working very, very carefully," Kerry indicated.  

Kerry said local ground forces are urgently needed in order to fight DAESH, referring to the recapture of the surrounding territories of Kobani from DAESH in northern Syria by YPG forces in late 2014.

"There are different Kurds because some are more prepared and more comfortable working with Turkey than others are, and those divisions are very complicated and need to be managed carefully," Kerry said.

"We are talking with the Turks right now about how to proceed in ways that do not cross important lines for them and that respect the sensitivities of the region and I'm confident we will be able to do that," he added.

The YPG has recently been moving outside Afrin in northwestern Syria, which has been controlled by the group since the beginning of the civil war, into areas close to the district of Azaz and the Minnigh Air Base controlled by opposition forces near the Turkish border.

Since Feb. 12, Turkey has been intermittently shelling YPG targets in northern Syria near its border, saying that it has been retaliating to artillery fire from YPG forces across border.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu previously said that the government warned the YPG many times to withdraw from the area, which has recently been captured by the group in northern Syria, however, it failed to comply with Turkey's demands, shelling military outposts near the border.

Kerry also commented on the recently proposed sale of Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter jets to Iran, indicating that the US administration opposes the deal.

"There’s a committee and it’s in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it," he said, referring to the UN Security Council’s respective committee.

The Russian twin-engine multi-role jet is comparable to the American F-15E all weather tactical fighter.

Asked whether the US would support any UN resolution concerning Palestinian statehood, Kerry said the US "always opposed any one-sided resolution, something that is unfair to Israel."

Kerry on Wednesday urged Israel and Palestine to resume a "genuine" peace process.

Kerry was also asked about a recent House bill passed on Wednesday urging the US administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organisation.

"As a whole it's very hard to wrap everybody into the same pot," Kerry said, adding that there were some members of the group who were engaging in violence.

TRTWorld, AA