Turkey says it wants the United States to take back the weapons it has given to Syria-based Kurdish militants, whom Ankara considers a threat to its security, and will discuss the issue with American officials in an upcoming meeting.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy told a news conference in Ankara on Tuesday that Turkey would tell US authorities during meetings on March 8-9 that it expected Washington to take concrete steps on retrieving the weapons it has provided to the so-called Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Aksoy also said that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is scheduled to visit Russia between March 12 and 14, and later meet with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Washington on March 19.
Regarded by Ankara as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the YPG forms the largest part of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus militant group.
Ankara has been waging the so-called Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Syria’s Afrin region since January 20 in a bid to eliminate the YPG. Turks have said the offensive could extend to Manbij and beyond.
The offensive came after the US said it would set up a 30,000-strong militant border force at Turkish doorstep.
Turkey is wary of the presence of Kurdish militants close to its borders in Syria, and has been opposed to Washington’s efforts to train and arm them in the Arab country.
Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused US President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama of failing to tell the truth over US support for the YPG.
Erdogan had earlier said the YPG is trying to establish a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border, linking Syria’s northern city of Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.