Backed by the U.S. through provisions of heavy weapons and ammunition, the People's Protection Units (YPG), which is the armed wing of the PKK's Syrian affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have reportedly moved some of its heavy machinery to the Turkish border due to alleged security risks. According to a recent report published in the Türkiye daily, the PKK-affiliated YPG, which is provided heavy weapons by Washington, has been stationed near the Turkish border, ready to target the Turkish military.
The report claimed that nine containers of heavy weapons and ammunition are now being deployed on the Turkish border.
The YPG has recently threatened to hit Turkey if Ankara decided to launch an operation on the YPG-held towns of Afrin and Tal Rifat in northern Syria. The U.S.-backed Raqqa Civilian Council, which is affiliated with the YPG terrorist group, has recently vowed to defend Afrin.
Also, a spokesperson for the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that the world "should take a stand against Turkish occupying aggression around Afrin." Pointing to Turkey's possible operation on Afrin, the Raqqa Civilian Council sent an ultimatum to the U.S., saying that it would hinder the YPG's Raqqa Operation. The council said the Raqqa offensive would be stalled if Turkey launched an operation on Afrin.
Also, a senior official for the YPG-led SDF, Naser Haj Mansour, told reporters recently that the SDF would confront the Turkish military "if they try to go beyond the known lines," referring to the possible Afrin offensive to liberate the area.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said yesterday at a press conference that the Turkish military would not hesitate to retaliate if there was a terrorist threat from the Afrin region or elsewhere.
"Turkey will retaliate in kind if a threat is posed by a terrorist group from Afrin or anywhere else," Kalın asserted.
Regarding the issue, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said yesterday "Russia is aware that the existence of the terrorist organization in Afrin is considered a serious threat by Turkey. Russians have respected this sensitivity and responded positively to it."
"The Gulf crisis is the result of a process has been talked about since 2014. It is not only for the security of Qatar. The Qatar crisis is an artificial crisis. The 13-article demand asked of Qatar cannot be asked from any other country. We are doing our best for Qatar to overcome this process. Our president is trying to relieve the tensions by negotiating with both sides. Turkey tries its best. If this crisis deepens, it would be costly for the whole region. It is wrong to see the base as a subject that is under the scope of the Gulf crisis. We hope that the crisis can be solved through our efforts," he added.
Previously, the YPG had used the same strategy. Back in November 2016, the YPG turned their backs on the U.S., threatening Washington to end the Raqqa operation after Turkey mulled an offensive on YPG-held Manbij.
The YPG said that the SDF would withdraw its troops from the Raqqa operation and position them in and around Manbij if Turkish airstrikes did not stop. After the SDF announcement that YPG forces were leaving Manbij turned out to be a misleading move, the Turkish military has since shelled and conducted airstrikes in the Manbij region, killing YPG militants who posed a threat.
Ankara and Washington have fallen out on the YPG issue. While Ankara considers the YPG to be a terrorist group, Washington is opting to work with it in northern Syria.
While Washington has not changed its approach towards Ankara's calls regarding the U.S.-YPG relationship, arms and equipment transfers to the YPG has further put strain on Turkish-U.S. relations.
Earlier in 2017, the Donald Trump administration approved to supply tons of heavy weapons and ammunition to the YPG. Up to that time, the U.S. air force had already airdropped 50 tons of arms and ammunition to the group in October 2015.
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