UK expresses concern over links between PKK, YPG


A U.K. minister has acknowledged that Britain is aware of the possible links between the PKK terrorist organization and its Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

"We are very concerned over possible links. We don't seek any link with the PKK and ourselves in any way," said Alistair Burt, minister of state for the Middle East, speaking at a session of the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee.Responding to questions at the committee, Burt gave the answer to a question by the committee from Labour Party member Mike Gapes on links between the two terrorist groups.

"We urge the PYD [Democratic Union Party] at all times to sever any links it might have with the PKK," he added.

On the other hand, Amy Clemitshaw, head of the Eastern Mediterranean Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, argued that the U.K. had no connections with the PKK.

"It [PKK] is a terrorist organization and proscribed in the U.K. We have only very frequent contact with the PYD," she said.

Clemitshaw said she did not want to comment on how either of those organizations works. Unsatisfied with the response from the Foreign Office officials, Gapes said the commission received much evidence and written submissions indicating that PKK militants have fought alongside other affiliated groups in various regions.

"It is well known that [convicted PKK terrorist Abdullah] Öcalan's photograph is displayed at demonstrations and in public places," he said. "These aren't just reported. There are links, and my question was ‘What links does the PYD/YPG have with the PKK?' Gapes said, also asking what ideological, financial and organizational links the terror groups had.

"Both organizations do have a regard for the role of Abdullah Öcalan. In terms of the distance or … links, it is not right for us to comment," Clemitshaw said.

She said they were "aware of the reports," responding to Gapes, who asked why it was not right to comment.

Gapes, however, asked for a further explanation. In response, Burt said the U.K. "had no contact with the PKK. We are aware of links as you are aware of links."

"It [PYD] is a dominant force in the Syrian Democratic Forces. We are not supplying any equipment to those forces. We are not supplying any weapons to those forces. They get air support because they are engaged in a conflict that we support."Gapes also directed a question regarding Turkey's concerns about weapons deployment in the region.

While the U.S. support for the YPG in Syria troubles relations between Ankara and Washington, the U.K. relatively stays closer to Turkey's position.

Recently, British Labour Co-operative Party politician John Woodcock told Daily Sabah that the YPG was not the sole representative of Syrian Kurds and that the U.K. stands by Turkey in the fight against terrorism.

Turkey has repeatedly said that the YPG was no different than the PKK and the two terrorist organizations work together in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. The Turkish government has previously contended that weapons used by the YPG end up in the hands of PKK terrorists.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had previously said that the weapons were being placed in the hands of terrorist groups by their "allies" and they were being used against Turkish security forces.

"Those who act like our allies and friends supply weapons to the PYD and YPG. You would be baffled if you saw the weapons seized in the caves [used by the PKK]. The weapons get in the hands of the PKK and are being used against us," Soylu said last year.

However, some believe the YPG operates separately from the PKK. Recently, propaganda photos of the YPG appeared in a magazine published and monitored by the German Defense Ministry.

An article in the "Y Magazine," available only to German soldiers and military personnel, lauded the terrorist YPG's efforts against Daesh in Raqqa. Furthermore, a photo exhibition at the European Parliament featured the so-called leaders and members of the PKK and YPG in 2016.

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