US officials have been directly meeting with representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to discuss arms transfers to the group in its battle to defend the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, according to a news report.
Citing the Arabic Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi Kurdish news portal Rudaw quoted a PYD official as saying that a US delegation and the PYD officials met once again in Duhok in northern Iraq on Thursday after talks in Paris last week, discussing Western and Arab support for the YPG – the armed wing of the PYD.
“They spoke about sending military support to the Kurds in Kobane,” PYD spokesman Nawaf Xelil told Asharq Al-Awsat. He said the PYD and the US had started their talks two years ago but that Washington had kept the issue under the radar “in order not to upset Turkey.”
The US announced on Thursday that a US State Department official held direct talks for the first time last weekend with the PYD. A senior administration official said the talks took place in Paris.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opposed any arms transfer by the US to the PYD, saying the PYD is a terrorist group just like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“There has been talk about forming a front against ISIL by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD, for us, is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization,” Erdoğan said in remarks published on Sunday. “It would be very wrong for the US, a NATO ally, to openly talk of such support [to the PYD] and expect us to agree.”
In a related development, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has objected to arms transfers to a Syrian Kurdish group defending the border town of Kobani in the face of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) onslaught, saying it is a terrorist group that is no different from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The president’s remark followed a US statement last week saying that it has directly met for the first time with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), widely considered to be the PKK’s Syrian arm. The PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), has been battling to stop ISIL advances on Kobani for more than a month. The US-led international coalition has been helping Kobani’s defense by hitting ISIL targets in the town.
“There has been talk about forming a front against ISIL by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD, for us, is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization,” Erdoğan said, criticizing the West for not supporting other groups in Syria who also have been fighting against ISIL.
“It would be very wrong for the US, a NATO ally, to openly talk of such support [to the PYD] and expect us to agree,” he said in remarks published on Sunday.
Turkey has said it supports the US-led coalition formed against ISIL but has not joined coalition efforts against the extremist group, insisting on the creation of a “secure zone” and a no-fly zone inside Syria. It also desires a re-definition of the coalition’s mission to include attacks on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well.In a related development, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama have spoken on the phone to discuss Syria, particularly the situation in Kobani, and steps that can be taken to counter advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Turkish presidential office and the White House announced on Sunday.