Turkey on Jan. 14 warned U.S. President Donald Trump against conflating Syrian Kurds with the illegal PKK organization.
“It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Twitter.
“Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats,” he added.
His remarks came in response to Trump’s threat to target Turkey’s economy if Ankara hits the PYD/YPG forces amid Washington’s withdrawal of troops from Syria.
“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….” Trump said on Twitter.
In response, Kalın said: “Mr @realDonaldTrump Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signaled that a cross-border operation in northeastern Syria will happen soon. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.
Turkey deems PYD/YPG, backed by the U.S. against the ISIL, as an offshoot of the PKK.