Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is opposing any weapons transfers to Kurdish fighters who have been battling Islamic State militants, a move that might weaken the Kurds’ ability to face the extremist group.
The state news agency Anadolu quoted Erdogan as saying Ankara has not agreed with the US on any arms transfers to the Kurds.
“The PYD is for us, equal to the PKK. It is a terror organization,” the Turkish leader said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose military wing is fighting the Islamic State, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which Turkey considers a terrorist group.
“It would be wrong for the United States — with whom we are friends and allies in NATO — to expect us to say ‘yes’ to supporting to a terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan’s remarks come days after the US said it held direct talks for the first time with the PYD, whose fighters are involved in defending the border town of Kobani besieged by the Islamic State.
Such talks have complicated the prospects of Turkey in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, as Ankara has doubts about the PYD due to its affiliation with the PKK who it only recently established a ceasefire with in 2013.
The US is nudging Turkey to expand its contributions in fighting the Islamic State, a militant group that have taken over many areas in Iraq and Syria.
But Turkey is insisting the Coalition should widen its operations to include supporting Syrian rebels who are fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.