Erdogan scolds U.S. over support for Syrian Kurds

Turkey should respond by implementing its own solution, Erdogan said, alluding to the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria. (File photo: Reuters)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan upbraided the United States for its support of Syrian Kurdish rebels on Wednesday, saying Washington’s inability to grasp their true nature had turned the region into a “sea of blood”.

Turkey should respond by implementing its own solution, he said, alluding to the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria - something Ankara has long wanted but a proposal that has failed to resonate with the United States and other NATO allies.

His comments, a day after Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador over its support for Syrian Kurds, displayed Ankara’s growing frustration with Washington, which backs Syrian Kurdish rebels against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISISI) militants in Syria’s civil war.

Compounding tensions, the army said that one Turkish soldier had been killed and another wounded when security forces clashed with Kurdish militants crossing over from Syria.

Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish PYD group as terrorists, citing their links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-old insurgency for autonomy in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

“Are you on our side or the side of the terrorist PYD and PKK organization?” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara to provincial officials, addressing the United States.

He added that a U.S. failure to understand the essence of the PYD and PKK had caused a “sea of blood” and created a domestic security issue for Turkey.

“On the Syrian problem, which has become a part of our own domestic security, the time has come to implement our proposals for a solution, which everyone finds to be rational and right,” Erdogan said.

Turkey has repeatedly called for a “safe zone” or “no-fly zone” inside Syria. While some Western allies have voiced support in principle, the idea has gained no traction abroad because of concerns that it could bring the West into direct confrontation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Ankara summoned the U.S. ambassador to drive home its displeasure after State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the United States did not regard the PYD as a "terrorist organization."

Another attempt at Syria peace talks last month quickly succumbed to mounting advances against rebels by Assad’s forces backed by Russian air strikes, amid international disunity over how to end the war with global and regional powers supporting opposing sides.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47