Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said that there are some elements among the Kurds in Syria who pose a legitimate national security threat to Turkey and that hopes to have a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the situation in Syria, a statement released by the senator said Saturday.
"I look forward to meeting with President Erdoğan in the near future to discuss common interests and security concerns regarding northeastern Syria," the senator said, adding that there are millions of Kurds living in Turkey, who are vibrant members of Turkish society.
Graham highlighted that Turkey's concern regarding the PKK's Syrian offshoot People's Democratic Units (YPG) elements "must be addressed in a real way to ensure that Turkey's borders are secure and are protected from any threats."
The senator added that any final disposition in Syria needs to address Turkey's national security interests and concerns.
"The mission in Syria is not yet complete and we must continue to work with our partners and allies to ensure that ISIS is destroyed and never returns," Graham said using another acronym for the Daesh terrorists.
Ankara has been infuriated by the U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG under the pretext of fighting against Daesh. The U.S. provided military training and supplied truckloads of weapons to the YPG, disregarding warnings from Ankara that the YPG is organically linked to the PKK, and partnering with one terrorist group to fight another was not acceptable.
Turkey says the weapons are ultimately transferred to the PKK – designated as a terror group by the U.S., Turkey and the EU – and used against Turkey. The PKK has been waging a terror campaign, which had led to the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children, since the 1980s.
The YPG's ultimate goal is to establish an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast. In response to the YPG threat near its borders, Turkey has launched two cross-border military operations along with Syrian moderate opposition groups in the past two years.
Earlier on Dec. 19, U.S. President Donald Trump announced an immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria but later said that he did not have a specific time limit for the pullout, signaling to an extension of the presence of U.S. troops on the grounds.
Commanders of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), who share close links with top YPG figures, have been reportedly resisting the withdrawal, asserting that Washington should not abandon the YPG, which is often portrayed as the sole power in the fight against Daesh.