It is disrespectful to refer to the PKK's Syrian offshoots as "Kurds," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday.
"It is simply disrespectful to define YPG/PYD as Kurds," Erdoğan said in a joint groundbreaking ceremony of the Social Security Institution's district branches in Istanbul's Zeytinburnu district.
The People's Protection Units (YPG) and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are the Syrian offshoots of the PKK, a designated terror organization in the U.S. and Turkey.
Erdoğan was criticizing Western officials, especially the ones in the U.S., who refer to the terrorists as Kurds.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so that a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some two million refugees.
On Oct. 17, the U.S. and Turkey came to an agreement to pause the operation to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone, where Ankara wants to repatriate millions of Syrian refugees it is currently hosting.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also said Turkey will not bow down to pressure by world powers and will continue to strive to independently meet its own defense needs, Erdoğan said.
"We fulfilled our defense needs when some countries failed to sell us the products we wanted to purchase," the president noted.
Over the last 16 years, the Turkish defense industry has gone through a profound transformation to domestically manufacture a series of military platforms, reaching up to 65% in domestic defense products as opposed to just 20% in early 2000.