Turkey has summoned the U.S. ambassador to register its displeasure over reports of growing ties between the United States and Kurdish militants in Syria, the Turkish prime minister said Wednesday.
The Turkish objection comes amid calls from some quarters for closer U.S. cooperation with the Kurds to oust the Islamic State militant group from its strongholds in war-torn Syria.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that armed Kurds in Syria could cooperate with Kurdish militants battling security forces inside Turkey.
Davutoglu said at a televised news conference that he also warned Russia against backing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, in Syria. Russia began launching airstrikes against Syrian rebels on Sept. 30 in a bid to strengthen President Bashar al-Assad, its embattled ally. Although the YPG, a secular force, has cooperated with some Syrian rebels, it has also maintained relations with Assad’s government.
“Turkey cannot accept any kind of cooperation with terror organizations that have declared war against Turkey,” Davutoglu said.
No one can guarantee that arms given to the YPG “won’t tomorrow fall into the hands of the PKK and be used against Turkey,” he said, according to the Associated Press. The PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States.
Tensions between Ankara and Washington have been exacerbated by reports that the U.S. military air-dropped arms and ammunition earlier this week to rebel groups preparing to fight ISIS in northern Syria. A Kurdish official in Syria said arms were also sent to the YPG, according to the Associated Press.
The United States did not confirm the reports that it had supplied weapons to Kurdish fighters, who have routed ISIS from key areas. But there is a growing push, including from some U.S. officials, for the U.S. military to cooperate more closely with the YPG. Concerns about ties to extremists have made the United States wary of closer collaboration with Syria’s rebels, many of whom are Islamists.