World News

Turkey demands USA expel Kurdish militia from anti-Islamic State force

Turkey demands USA expel Kurdish militia from anti-Islamic State force

Meanwhile, the United States has never provided the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) with weapons, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a joint press conference with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday.

But former State Department officials said the meeting strayed from normal protocol.

"This is one of the areas of deep, deep concern on the part of the administration and the USA government", she told a briefing on Tuesday.

"[Mattis] called for a renewed focus on the campaign to defeat ISIS, and to preventing any vestige of the terrorist organization from reconstituting in Syria", the statement said. However, Tillerson later said that Washington had "never given heavy arms" to the YPG and there was therefore "nothing to take back".

And Erdogan has further upped the ante by warning United States troops to leave Manbij, a YPG-held town east of Afrin, raising fears of a clash between the allies.

Meanwhile, the US called on Turkey to remain focused on fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, according to a statement released by the Pentagon on February 15.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.

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"It will be better for them not to stand with the terrorists they support today. I am calling on the people of the United States - this money is coming out of the budget of the United States, it is coming out of people's pockets", Erdogan said.

Turkey has repeatedly accused the United States of massively arming the YPG, and has said Washington must gather up its weapons now that the peak of the fight against militants has passed. It has also threatened to press on to the Syrian town of Manbij, under the control of a YPG-led force, and warned US troops stationed there not to get in the way.

Following a meeting with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Brussels, Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said Ankara wanted to see the YPG pulled out of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) umbrella group.

The US DoD said: 'Mattis acknowledged the legitimate threats posed to Turkey's national security by terrorist organisations.

He said he would meet with his Turkish counterpart later this week during a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation gathering.

Washington says it has no plans to withdraw its soldiers from Manbij and two USA commanders visited the town last week to reinforce that message.

For Ankara, the YPG is a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terror outfit by the U.S. and the EU.


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