The recently released U.S. terrorism report which refrained from naming the PKK terror group’s Syrian branch, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), demonstrates an effort to cover up its cooperation with the terror group, Turkey announced on Sunday. "Not mentioning the YPG and instead calling it the PKK's offshoot in Syria is an effort by the U.S. authorities, who do not hide their cooperation with the terror group, to cover up their attitude which does not abide by the law," Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement on the annual Country Report on Terrorism issued by the U.S. State Department on Friday. The U.S. has primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in the anti-Daesh fight. Turkey strongly opposes the YPG's presence in northern Syria, which has been a major sticking point in strained Turkey-U.S. relations. The U.S. has provided military training and given thousands of truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally's security concerns.
The report said that in 2018 Ankara "continued its efforts to defeat terrorist organizations both inside and outside its borders," including by taking measures against the PKK and Daesh. Aksoy said the report further noted that Turkey has been an "active contributor" of international anti-terror organizations, including the Global Counter-terrorism Forum and the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition. He said the PKK, which is listed as a foreign terror group by the U.S., is responsible for the deaths of over 1,200 civilians, police officers, and soldiers in Turkey in the 2015-2018 period.
Touching on the U.S. report's part on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Aksoy said: "Presenting the ringleader of FETÖ, another terror group targeting Turkey, as a self-exiled cleric means ignoring and supporting the heinous July 15 coup attempt. It is also a manifestation of the effort to ignore the fact that this terrorist has found a safe haven on U.S. land." He warned that the FETÖ terror group, which claimed 251 lives and injured thousands during the 2016 defeated coup attempt, does not pose a threat only for Turkey but for all the countries where it is present. Aksoy also reiterated the importance of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. FETÖ and its U.S.-based head Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured. FETÖ was also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Many high-profile FETÖ supporters fled the country following the July 15 coup attempt and sought asylum in European countries, the U.S. and Canada. FETÖ has a considerable presence abroad, particularly in the U.S., including private schools that serve as a key revenue stream for the terror group. The U.S. is home to a large community of Gülenists, including group leader Fetullah Gülen. Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile on a secluded compound in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999. The United States is the target of most extradition requests. Turkey has sent seven extradition requests for Gülen to Washington but has seen little progress in his extradition.