Turkey's fight in Syria is not against Kurds but against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday, pushing back a U.S. misconception.
"The fight of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is not against our Kurdish brothers with whom we have shared the same geography and the same bread for centuries.
"Our fight in the region is against the PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists that threaten all ethnic and religious groups, particularly our Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen brothers," Akar told reporters.
Akar's remarks came a day after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington would not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria unless the Turkish government guaranteed it won't attack "Kurdish fighters," referring to PKK terrorist group's Syrian offshoot YPG.
The terrorist PKK/YPG can never be the representatives of the Kurdish people, stressed Akar.
"This terrorist group both poses a threat to regional security and stability, and prevents Syrian refugees, particularly Kurds, from returning to their territories," he added.
Also rebuffing Bolton's remarks, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın on Sunday called claims that Turkey targets Kurds "irrational," as the country is fighting Daesh and PKK/YPG terrorists.
"To argue that a terrorist organization represents Kurds is, above all, disrespectful to our Kurdish brothers," Kalın said. "One of the goals of Turkey's struggle against the PKK and its Syrian offshoots is to save the Kurds from the tyranny and oppression of this terror group."
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.
Previously, Turkey targeted the YPG in two cross-border operations, Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018, as well as through air and artillery strikes.
Turkey has said it is planning a counter-terrorist operation into Syria targeting the PKK/YPG, following two successful operations since 2016