Evidence discredits Mattis's claims on YPG arms support, defense minister says

OKAN MÜDERRISOĞLU
ANKARA
Published 04.09.2017 23:31

Ankara revealed that the Washington has provided 1,285 truckloads of weapons and ammunition to the PKK's Syrian armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG) while they are claiming that only 60 trucks of arms support was sent to the YPG.

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli refuted the statements of his American counterpart James Mattis regarding the number of trucks carrying military equipment sent to YPG by the U.S. During a face-to-face meeting between Mattis and Canikli on Aug. 23, the Turkish side provided aerial photographs which indicate that the number of trucks is far higher than claimed.

Diplomatic sources said that the recent meeting held in Ankara on Aug. 23 between Turkish and U.S. defense ministers was a tense one in which Canikli and Mattis discussed the Pentagon's military assistance provided to the PKK-affiliated YPG.

Mattis said in the meeting that the U.S.'s cooperation with the YPG is tactical and entirely for the purpose of fighting against Daesh. "Therefore, we share with you the inventory of weapons that we sent to [the] YPG," he asserted.

In response to the remarks of Mattis, Canikli stated that according to Ankara's calculations that are based on documents that were provided by the U.S., the YPG terrorist group is likely to have received 60 trucks of weapon and ammunition. However, the aerial photographs taken by Turkey, as well as data gathered from field intelligence reveals that the number of trucks sent to the YPG is more than 1,285.

Turkey's immediate falsification of the numbers claimed by the U.S with documented evidence caused consternation in the American side. In order to provide an explanation regarding the number of trucks, Mattis stated that those trucks were not only sent to the YPG but also to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Syria.

The Turkish side has responded by saying that the 1,200 trucks of weapons are enough to adequately equip at least 60,000 soldiers, adding that as far as it is known, there are not American soldiers of this number in Syria and Northern Iraq, again refuting the U.S. secretary of defense.

Turkey has long criticized cooperation between the U.S. and the terrorist group YPG and has repeatedly voiced its concerns regarding the extent of the role that the U.S. allots to the YPG under the guise of fighting Daesh.

Failing to allay Ankara's concerns, the U.S. has claimed that it would retrieve all military weapons from the YPG when the fight against Daesh ends. However, Turkey considers the YPG to be a threat to its national security.

In an effort to ease Turkey's concerns, Mattis sent a letter to former Defense Minister Fikri Işık in June. In the letter, Mattis provided detailed information on the military equipment provided to the YPG. He also underlined that the U.S.'s relation with the YPG is solely a tactical one, while ensuring that the U.S. will provide Turkey with a list of materials given to the YPG every month. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also warned the U.S. on various occasions that their support for the YPG could adversely affect tensions in the region and create new security threats. President Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey will not allow terrorist groups of any kind to have a presence along its border. He criticized the cooperation of the terrorist groups' allies while emphasizing that the U.S. will eventually realize they have made a crucial mistake.

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