Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli told his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPD) shoud be removed from the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main US ally on the ground in Syria.
Canikli added that he disagreed with Mattis on the nature of YPG role in SDF, denying the claim that SDF is dominated by Arabs. He also said that Turkey provided the US with evidence of YPG link with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is a designated terror organisation in Turkey, US and EU.
On Wednesday, February 14th, speaking in US Congress Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats called YPG “the Syrian militia” of PKK, siding with Turkey in its position towards YPG.
Coats’ rhetoric runs contrary to the US partnership with the Syrian Kurds, who have become the main ground power of the US-backed International Coalition fight against ISIS, in particular in Northern Syria.
On the other side, the co-operation with YPG led to a major crisis in the relations between Washington and Ankara. The Turkish authorities have been demanding US to cut its support for YPG, which is considered the main component of SDF.
The tensions have reached their peak with the launch of the Turkish Olive Branch operation in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region in Aleppo province, which is aimed at pushing the YPG units from the area. The Turkish officials have also threatened to target YPG in Manbij, where a US military base is located.