Independent Kurdish groups criticize the oppressive policies of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG), emphasizing Turkey's right to self-defense against terrorist organizations in northern Syria. "We want to live freely in our lands, not the way that PKK wants," Abdulaziz Tammo, the president of the Independent Syrian Kurds Association, said at a panel in Washington.
Organized by the Turkish Heritage Foundation, a panel titled "War in Syria: The Kurdish Perspective," saw the participation of prominent Syrian opposition figures, including Tammo, Syrian activist Farouk Belal and Policy and Advocacy Officer Shlomo Bolts. Also, Abdullah Kedo, a member of the Yekiti Party and the political commission of the Syrian Kurdish National Council (ENKS) attended the meeting via Skype.
Stressing that the main source of terror in Syria is the Bashar Assad regime, Tammo criticized the international community's inactivity in the Syrian civil war. "Iranian militants entered Syria and turned it into a province of Iran. Millions of Syrians pay the price for this," he said.
Tammo added that the planned zone should be established for Syrian refugees and should not include terrorists.
A 20-mile-deep safe zone between the northern Syrian towns of Jarabulus and al-Rai has been mentioned several times since 2012 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has maintained that the terror-free safe zone to be established in Syria's north must be based on the country's territorial integrity.
However, the plan did not come to fruition at the time. Since the beginning of this year, Ankara and Washington have held talks again concerning a safe zone. Kedo said that the YPG coordinates with the Assad regime and applies oppressive policies in the regions it rules. "They forcibly recruited children and kidnapped many of them. We should understand well the agreement between the YPG and the regime," he said.
Local people living in areas held by the group have long suffered from YPG atrocities since the terrorist organization has a lengthy record of human rights abuses, ranging from kidnappings of suspected persons, recruiting child soldiers, torture, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement in Syria.
The YPG has forced young people from areas under its control to join their forces within the so-called "compulsory conscription in the duty of a self-defense law" since 2017. Bolts said Washington's support for the YPG is one of prominent sources of rift between Turkey and the U.S., adding that the Trump administration should focus on relations between the regime and the YPG as the "regime still protects Daesh in some regions."
The activities of the YPG terrorist group have been a major security concern for Ankara, while the U.S. views the group as a "reliable partner" in the fight against Daesh.
The U.S. opted for partnering with the YPG despite its NATO ally's security concerns and provided truckloads of weapons to the terrorist group during the fight against Daesh. Some 22,000 truckloads of arms and ammunition have been given to the YPG so far. Some of the arms include cruise missiles, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS).
The delivery of arms and equipment to the YPG, which is still poisoning bilateral relations between the two NATO allies, began in 2014 and intensified in subsequent years.