In New York on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized countries that continue to support the PKK terror group's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).
In a speech during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Erdoğan said the PKK and its linked groups are "solely trying to change the demographics of Syria" under the claim of fighting against Daesh. He possibly pointed to the U.S., while expressing his criticism of armaments for those terror groups in Syria.
The PYD has come into the spotlight for its reported crimes against Arab and Turkmen locals in northern Syria, as part of what Ankara calls its attempt to implement demographic changes in the region. The PYD's policies of forced migration for Arabs and Turkmens, as well as its arbitrary arrests of critical voices and recruitment of child soldiers, have been covered by international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and KurdsWatch.According to an article in Foreign Policy earlier this month, the worth of the U.S.'s military supplies provided to the YPG has reached $2.2 billion in five years.
The U.S. has supplied the terrorist group with a total of 1,621 truckloads of military equipment since June 1, according to correspondents on the ground, Anadolu Agency previously reported.
This figure, correspondents say, includes: 60 truckloads of equipment on June 5, 20 truckloads on June 12, 50 on June 16, 120 from June 21 to June 26, 82 on July 5, 102 on July 9, 95 on June 13, 100 on July 17, 100 on July 22, 80 on July 27, 100 on July 31 and 112 truckloads on Aug. 7.
According to the Pentagon, recent military assistance extended to armed groups in Syria, including the PKK/PYD, included 12,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 6,000 light machine guns, 3,500 heavy machine guns, 3,000 RPG-7s, 1,000 of the anti-tank weapons Swedish AT-4s and Russian SPG-9s, 235 mortar guns of various calibers and 100 long-range sniper rifles.
Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, Syrian affiliates of the PKK, a proscribed terrorist organization according to the U.S., Turkey and the EU.
Therefore, continuous U.S. support for the YPG has caused tension in the relations between Washington and Ankara, while the former says that supporting the YPG is the only option for defeating Daesh, and the latter says an alternative can be found with local Arab tribes backed by countries in the region instead of supporting and arming a "terrorist group."
President Erdoğan also said international collaboration was necessary to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. "The international community has left Syria alone. The only way to find a solution to the crisis is to collaborate under this one roof," he said.
Pointing out that Turkey has and will continue to do all it can to help Syrians, Erdoğan reminded world leaders of Turkey's determination in the fight against terror, saying it has liberated over 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of land in Syria from Daesh terrorists.