Turkey summons US ambassador over support for Syrian Kurds

Turkey summons US ambassador over support for Syrian Kurds
2 min read
10 February, 2016
Turkey summoned the US ambassador on Tuesday after the US State Department spokesman said Washington does not consider Syrian Kurdish forces to be terrorists unlike Ankara.
US ambassador John Bass has been summoned by the Turkish Foreign Ministry [AFP]

Turkey has summoned the US ambassador to "convey unease" a day after the US State Department spokesman said that, unlike Turkey, Washington doesn't recognise Syrian Kurdish forces as "terrorists."

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Ambassador John Bass was called to the ministry on Tuesday where a senior Turkish official expressed Ankara's concerns.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorised to make public statements.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday: "We don't, as you know, recognise the PYD as a terrorist organisation. We recognise that the Turks do."

Kirby had added that Kurdish fighters were "some of the most successful" fighters against the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria and have received American air support, which the US will continue to provide.

The issue has strained ties between the two allies as Turkey equates between the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkish authorities have been fighting for several months.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said allied and friendly nations should distinguish "terrorist organisations" from states in their fight against IS in Syria.

"The US needs to make a decision: Does it choose us as a partner or terrorist organisations?" said Cavusoglu in a news conference with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Budapest.

The foreign minister's comments echo a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday in which he called on the US to show preference to its NATO partner Turkey over the PYD.

Erdogan's comments were made after the US anti-IS coalition envoy Brett McGurk visited to Kobani, where the PYD's military wing, aided by US-led airstrikes, drove back IS militants a year ago.

"How can we trust you? Is it me that is your partner or is it the terrorists in Kobani?" Erdogan said.

Last month, Turkey had opposed the participation of the PYD in Syrian peace talks held in Geneva.

Agencies contributed to this report