PKK's Syrian affiliate exploits US backing to plot against Turkey

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 06.04.2019 00:19

Receiving huge amounts of military and diplomatic support from the U.S. under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), have misused this backing for their own purposes while hurling threats at Turkey.

Aldar Xelil, a top YPG figure, told U.S. media Thursday that the terrorist organization is developing a strategy to take back areas held by the Turkish-backed forces in northwestern Syria's Afrin.

Stressing that capturing Afrin is a goal for the terrorist group, Xelil said they will "benefit from current developments and to develop the operations" to try to take back Afrin, which was liberated by the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with Operation Olive Branch last year.

The close U.S. partnership with the YPG since former President Barack Obama's administration has been always a sticking point in Washington-Ankara relations. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.

The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, is maintaining its steadfast militarily support for the terrorist organization, by providing truckloads of military supplies and military training, under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

Washington had promised to retrieve weapons provided to the terrorist organization earlier, but later remarks coming from the White House changed and have begun to suggest that they cannot retrieve all the weapons, which, according to Ankara, may eventually be transferred to the PKK to be used in its terror campaign against Turkey.

Xelil emphasized that Washington's backing for them on the pretext of fighting Daesh facilitates their plans to attack Afrin. "Turkey must get out of Efrin," Xelil said, using the Kurdish name of the city.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20, 2018 to remove terrorists from Afrin and liberated the city center completely from terrorists on March 18, 2018. Following the operations, Turkey has also been involved in efforts to rebuild infrastructure and help with health and education institutions. Schools are being renovated and a hospital is being built. Ankara has also helped local people build olive oil facilities in the town where agriculture is the main source of income for residents.

Sharing a 911-kilometer long border with war-torn Syria, Turkey has been playing a pivotal role in efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrians who had to leave their countries. The country followed an open door policy and has been hosting over 3.5 million refugees. While providing shelter to many Syrians, Turkey also raised hopes for them to return to their homes with its counterterror operation.

After the U.S. dragged its feet to cease support to the YPG, Turkish officials announced in December 2018 that Ankara was preparing for a third offensive in northern Syria, this time east of the Euphrates, which is dominated by YPG terrorists. However, the operation was postponed after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Daesh had been defeated and the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria will come home. Despite the announcement, Washington has not taken concrete any steps for the pullout.

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