Ankara is closely monitoring the weapons the United States provided the PKK Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG) militia and the Turkish government expects the swift return of all weapons to the U.S. as soon as possible, a high-level official from the Defense Ministry told Daily Sabah.
The senior official from the Defense Ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media, said that Ankara has been following the deliveries of all heavy weapons and ammunition sent to the YPG and will continue to monitor the situation. "We are expecting the U.S. to retrieve all weapons as soon as possible," the official said.
The United States has ramped up its arms and ammunition supply to the YPG as the latter will use the heavy weapons and armored vehicles as well as tons of equipment in the battle to take Raqqa from Daesh.
The senior official's statement that Ankara expects the rapid retrieval of all weapons sent to the YGP come after U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently sent a letter to Defense Minister Fikri Işık, promising that the United States would retrieve the weapons it sent to the YPG for the Raqqa battle after Daesh is defeated.
The letter reportedly included information about the heavy weapons and equipment sent to the YPG. Mattis also pledged that the U.S. would share a list of materials given to the YPG each month with Turkey.
As ANkara reiterates that it will be following the return of all weapons, a high-level U.S. military official in Ankara recently told Daily Sabah that "there is a list of weapons provided to the YPG", and they "should be retrieved at the end of the Raqqa operation."
Washington's insistence on backing the YPG, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group for its ties to the PKK, has strained bilateral relations. The U.S. previously airdropped 50 tons of weapons and ammunition for the YPG for the first time in October 2015. That airdrop was followed by heavy arms and weapons to the group in recent months for the Raqqa offensive.
The U.S. military official also said that Washington has to be honest with Turkey and fulfill its earlier pledge to take back all the weapons.
Even though the U.S. administration makes promises to Turkey, saying that the weapons would be retrieved at the end of the Raqqa offensive, YPG fighters have rebuffed it.
"We will not give up our weapons," a YPG sniper taking part in the Raqqa offensive was quoted as saying in a Reuters article published in late June. Another YPG militant named Maryam Mohamed in the same article, said: "Erdoğan is our biggest enemy; we cannot hand over our weapons."
Last week, Işık met with Mattis in Brussels where he is reported to have conveyed Ankara's message that Turkey is disturbed with the U.S.'s continuous support of the YPG. In response to that, Mattis was reported as saying that U.S. relations with the YPG are temporary.
Mattis called arming the YPG "an interim situation triggered by necessity rather than preference."
While Washington helps the YPG gain swathes of territory across northern Syria by supplying tons of heavy weapons and ammunition, Ankara vehemently opposes the PYD's passion for an autonomous state in northern Syria.
Speaking just across the border in late June, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed the PYD's ambitions for an autonomous state. He said that Turkey's case against the YPG is clearer than ever, saying: "Despite who is by your side, you shall know that Turkey, with its armed forces, will not let a state be formed in northern Syria."
The possibility of the U.S.-supplied weapons ending up in the hands of PKK terrorists, who are waging a battle against Turkish security forces in the Turkey, also troubles U.S-Turkish ties. Ankara previously said that the weapons were being placed in the hands of terrorist groups by their "allies" and claimed they were being used against Turkish security forces. "Those who act like our allies and friends supply weapons to the YPG. The weapons get in the hands of the PKK and are being used against us," Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in April.