Russia asks: Why is Turkey bombing Kurds in Syria who are US allies?
Kurdistan Region – Why has Turkey been bombing the Kurdish forces in Syria that the United States considers allies in the war with ISIS, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asked in an interview with reporters Wednesday.
Speaking to Italian journalists, Lavrov said that the Kurds were the most effective fighters on the ground, the Russian Sputnik news agency reported.
Turkey considers “these Kurdish militias as enemies. So we need to understand how Turkey, as a member of the US-led coalition, is fulfilling its duties?” Lavrov said.
“Why is Turkey not bombing terrorists — if it is bombing them at all — but also the Kurds, who are considered to be potential US allies?” he asked.
Turkey is an important NATO ally, yet it has allowed what amounts to open trade and movement across its borders to jihadis in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a war on terrorism in late July, but since then Turkish forces have directed their fight almost entirely to trying to militarily crush the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Kurdish YPG force in Syria, which the US considers an ally in the fight with ISIS, remains unacceptable to Turkey. That is because the force is affiliated to the PKK.
Turkey’s National Security Council in October denounced a new self-proclaimed Kurdish enclave in Syria – Tal Abyad, or Gire Spi – and called on the international community to condemn the YPG as terrorists.
It has called the Kurdish proclamation in Tal Abyad “a campaign to change the demographic make-up of northern Syria.”
Turkey has warned the United States and Russia that it will not tolerate any Kurdish entity in Syria that is held by the PKK, which NATO also lists as a terrorist organization.
Lavrov said that any weakening of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom Moscow supports, will mean the strengthening of ISIS in equal measure.
Russia and Iran remain strong supporters of Assad, while Turkey and the US-led coalition insist he has committed war crimes and must step down.
“If the issue of Assad continues to be artificially clung onto as an obstacle to creating an actual universal anti-terrorist coalition, then those who are insisting on this… will indirectly maintain the conditions that (allow) the Islamic State to continue expanding,” Lavrov said.
He also said that the Syrian regime is ready to co-operate the US-led coalition if requested.