Istanbul, Sep 24 () - Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has reacted to a recent statement by a U.S. official who said Washington does not consider the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), a terrorist organization.
“The U.S. is not paying a price in this matter today, it is us who pay the bill and know what the PYD and the YPG are doing,” Erdoğan said after performing his Eid al-Adha prayer early on Sept. 24 in Istanbul.
Turkish officials have repeatedly raised concerns about the YPG’s ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but also said the group was not a target unless it targets Turkey.
“Thus I think they will re-evaluate this wrong view. We see DAESH as a terrorist organization, along with the PYD, similar organizations and the PKK,” he said. DAESH is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We don’t consider the YPG a terrorist organization, and they have proven successful against ISIL inside Syria. And as I said, we’re going to continue to work with counter-ISIL fighters who are and can be successful against this group, and they’re not all Kurds,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said Sept. 21 while responding to a question on the differences between the Turkish and the U.S. stance against the group.
“We understand that the Turkish government has concerns about the YPG. We continue to talk to them and engage them. We continue to be appreciative of the support that Turkey is making to the coalition and to direct kinetic activity against ISIL,” Kirby said.
Erdoğan voices ‘transition process with al-Assad’ for first time
Elaborating his discussion with the Russian president on Sept. 23, Erdoğan said he “could not see a clear [perspective] in Russia’s approach to Syria.”
But he also said that the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers would launch a new working group on the Syrian crisis, according to an agreement reached in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have decided to work on this issue at the U.N. General Assembly as a group of three foreign ministers from the U.S., Turkey and Russia,” Erdoğan said, adding that Iran and Saudi Arabia could also be involved in the process. With the participation of the EU, Jordan and Qatar, efforts for Syria could be extended, the president also said.
Meanwhile, for the first time Erdoğan suggested that al-Assad could be involved in a “transition process” to find a solution in Syria.
“Either a process without al-Assad, or with al-Assad, is possible. But what is the required is the opposition … Nobody can foresee Syria’s future with al-Assad. It’s not possible to accept a person responsible for killing 300,000 to 350,000 people, a dictator,” he said.
Erdoğan added that he told Putin that al-Assad’s current aim is to declare a “boutique Syria” of 15 percent of the country from Damascus to Latakia, including Homs.
The Turkish president also reiterated Ankara’s wish to create a “safe haven” in Syria, which it hopes will be cleared of “terrorist organizations.”