The PKK's Syrian affiliate, the U.S.-backed People's Protection Units (YPG), is moving the Bashar Assad regime's old military aircraft and equipment to Iraq, security sources said Saturday.
The military vehicles, which were transported through the Simelka Gate at the Iraq-Syria border, could be sold and serve as financial resources for the terrorist organization, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The vehicles were transferred from the regime's Tabqa Air Base, which is now controlled by the YPG. The air base was used by French troops supporting the YPG, however, it has been under the control of the group since March 2017.
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, a group that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people in its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey.
The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, opted to continue its steadfast militarily support for the terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting Daesh, despite warnings that the YPG does not represent Syrian Kurds. Ankara reiterates that it will not allow PKK-affiliated groups to establish a terrorist corridor on its southern border that could threaten Turkey's border security and peace.
Turkey carried out two cross-border operations west of the Euphrates River, Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018, to drive terrorist groups, including the YPG and Daesh, from its borders. Turkey has long signaled a possible operation in areas held by the YPG east of the Euphrates. However, the government decided to postpone the operation for a while after U.S. President Donald Trump decided that Washington, the main backer of the terrorist group, would withdraw its troops from Syria.
While Washington continues preparing for this withdrawal, in spite of dissident voices, it has been holding talks with Ankara and discussing a plan to form a safe zone. Turkey has stressed that the zone must be free of terrorists to ensure its border security and enable the return of Syrian refugees.