U.S. Ambassador to Ankara John Bass said that the U.S. strongly supports the government's right to protect its population against terrorist threats and violence that are perpetrated against its citizens while stressing that they see the efforts to address the PKK violence is very much in that line.
Ambassador John Bass said that for the U.S., the PKK is a designated terrorist organization and called on the PKK to stop its violent attacks and lay down its arms. "We call again on the PKK to stop its campaign of violence and to put down its weapons and to undertake a legitimate conversation to the extent there are opportunities to do so," he said, speaking at the Diplomatic Correspondents Association in Ankara on Thursday.
"It's important to remember why that violence is occurring [in the southeast of Turkey]. It's occurring because the PKK has chosen to pursue terrorist attacks and declarations of autonomy for political areas inside urban environments. It's natural for a central government to take measures against the terrorist threat, whether it's happening in rural areas or in urban areas," he said, commenting on the ongoing military operations by the Turkish security forces against the PKK in southeastern Turkey.
Stressing that the threat posed by terrorism in the region is one of the major challenges that the two countries face together, the U.S. ambassador emphasized the importance of coordinated efforts with Turkish officials within their fight against terrorism.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is considered an arm of the outlawed PKK in Syria by Turkey, however, is not a terrorist organization in the U.S.'s eyes. Touching upon this issue, Ambassador Bass said that they understand Turkey's concerns. "We are mindful of and sensitive to Turkey's concerns about the PYD controlling the entire length of Turkey's border with Syria and extent to which Turkey believes that poses a national security threat," Ambassador Bass said.
Answering whether the U.S. provides weapons and ammunition to the People's Protection Units (YPG) – an offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization – Ambassador Bass stressed that "the U.S. is not arming the YPG or providing arms of ammunition to the YPG."
Commenting on articles that claim the weapons that were supplied by the U.S. to the PYD passed into PKK hands and were used against Turkish security forces in southeastern Turkey, the ambassador clarified that those weapons were provided to Iraqi security forces, not the PYD.