Türkiye cannot accept the US decision to lift sanctions in Syria's YPG/PKK-held regions, says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The YPG terror group remains in control of large swathes of northeastern Syria with US backing.
The YPG terror group remains in control of large swathes of northeastern Syria with US backing. (Reuters)

Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stressed that YPG/PKK is a terror group and Ankara cannot accept the US move to lift sanctions on regions in Syria held by YPG/PKK.

"We do not have the luxury of disregarding terrorists. We say this to all countries that seem friendly to us," Erdogan said on Friday, urging them to "take care" with their actions.

The US issued a general licence on Thursday to exempt northern Syrian territories, including those controlled by the PKK terror group's regional branch, YPG, from American sanctions, allowing economic activities there. 

The YPG remains in control of large swathes of northeastern Syria with US backing.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organisation in Türkiye and the US, which has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people in its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye.

But Washington has refrained from similarly designating the YPG and continues to partner with it in the region against the Daesh terror group despite adamant protests from Ankara.

READ MORE: How can the YPG wedge be removed from the US-Turkey relationship?

'An attempt to legitimise' 

The decision is "an attempt to legitimise" the terrorist group, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference alongside Christophe Lutundula Apala, the Democratic Republic of Congo's deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

The move “lacks objective criteria” but has “certain motives,” he added, likely referring to the US’ longstanding support for the terrorist YPG/PKK, which Türkiye has long objected to.

Cavusogu stressed that the US is "discriminating" on the lifting of sanctions among regions that the Assad regime does not control.

"They are expanding (the end of sanctions) to regions where the YPG/PKK is dominant,” he said.

He cited how the lifting of sanctions “includes the region we cleared of terrorism of Daesh, but not regions like Afrin, which we cleared of the PKK," he added.

The Treasury Department's decision lifts prohibitions on business activities in 12 different economic sectors in northern Syria, including agriculture, telecommunications, power grid infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, trade, finance and clean energy.

Purchases of Syrian oil from the region are also permitted as long as they do not benefit the regime.

The areas that are covered by the license run from the Aleppo governorate in the west to the Hasakah governorate in the east. 

READ MORE: Turkey blames US, Russia for persisting PKK/YPG attacks along Syria border

Source: TRTWorld and agencies