US President Barack Obama’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter DAESH, Brett McGurk said on Thursday that he is in Turkey to meet with Turkish officials regarding the developments in Syria and Iraq.
Announcing the visit on his Twitter account, McGurk said during the meetings in-depth discussions will be held about the developments in Iraq and Syria and the joint battle against DAESH.
In the meantime, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic in a press briefing on Thursday welcomed the comments from the US military officials, reassuring Turkey that the US will not supply arms to the Kurdish YPG militants in Syria.
Bilgic said, “We have noted the statements of US officials with pleasure. We will closely follow how the decision is implemented in the field.”
The comments that pleased Turkey came from Colonel Steve Warren, who is a Baghdad-based spokesman for the US-led coalition against DAESH.
In a video based press meeting, Warren said, “As of now, we are not providing weapons or ammunition to the YPG. The weapons that we’ve provided thus far, with the ammunition that we’ve provided in our one airdrop that was executed, was for the Syrian-Arab coalition.” Colonel Warren also added, “As of now, future resupplies will also go to Arab-vetted Syrian opposition members.”
Announcement from the US came following Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) winning the snap election on Nov.1, by collecting nearly half of the votes.
Turkey has been led by AK Party for the past 13 years and has long criticized the US of having ties with YPG in Syria.
Shortly before the election, retired General John Allen who McGurk replaced in late October, said the US was in a "very delicate, diplomatic process" in trying to work with Turkey and at the same time partnering with the YPG and PYD - affiliated Syrian groups of the terrorist-designated PKK, while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US Mideast strategy.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had recently underlined that Turkey is under a “collective terror threat” that is backed by “the West,” since the terrorist organizations, such as PKK, DHKP-C, HPG, PYD and DAESH do not operate on their own, pointing to the issue that some of these groups are supplied with arms by Western nations.
Turkey considers PYD to be the Syrian extension of the terrorist organisation PKK and sees any PYD-controlled area by its border as a national threat, Turkish stance is that PYD is trying to create a “de facto state” in northern Syria, on the pretext of fighting DAESH.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had confirmed on Oct. 27 that the Turkish Army had conducted air strikes on the positions of Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) militia twice before, as the group ignored Turkey's warnings and violated Turkey’s 'red lines' in Syria.
PYD proclaimed Afrin, Jazira and Kobane from the west to the east in northern Syria as “cantons” in 2013, following the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces, PYD’s armed militia, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) had taken control of these areas in 2012, during the course of the Syrian civil war.
Turkey aims to keep the expansion of PYD in check and has previously declared that Turkey will consider any incursion to the west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria along the Turkish border by the PYD as a “violation of the red lines.”
New displacement fears have also spread throughout northern Syrian districts, following the latest declaration of the PYD that it has incorporated Tel Abyad into its pre-existing Kobane “canton.”
UN and Amnesty International have also accused YPG of human rights violations.