Turkey and the United States have been accusing each other of supporting various terrorist groups in Syria. Brett H. McGurk, the US special envoy to the international coalition against the Daesh terrorist group, has suggested that Turkey facilitates al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria’s Idlib Province.
He said in a speech delivered at a Washington-based think tank on July 29 that Idlib has turned into a “safe zone for al-Qaeda terrorists on the Turkish border,” asking “why and how” a deputy to al-Qaeda’s leader had allegedly managed to travel to the Syrian province.
He said it might not be the best approach for some partners of the US “to send tens of thousands of weapons and turn their faces to the other side as foreign fighters enter this area,” according to reports. The US, McGurk reportedly said, intended to work with Turkey to have the border closed to recruited militants.
Ankara has strongly denounced McGurk’s “provocative” remarks, accusing Washington of terror sponsorship in Syria by supporting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that has been fighting the central Turkish government since 1984.
“Our reaction to the statements of Brett McGurk, in which he associated Turkey with the presence of terrorist organizations in Idlib, was brought to Mr. McGurk’s attention at a high-level démarche, and his statements, which could be characterized as provocative, were protested,” Turkish media on Monday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Huseyin Muftuoglu as saying.
Muftuoglu also said that the US had to end its support for the Kurdish Democratic Party, aka PYD. A Turkish Foreign Ministry official, who asked not to be named, also told Hurriyet Daily News that Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal had urged the US envoy to “correct” his statements.
The official added that Onal warned that such remarks could harm mutual cooperation between Turkey and the US, which is seeking cooperation with Ankara for the post-Daesh period in Syria. Syria has been gripped by militancy since March 2011, when a section of the opposition in the country took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad. A vast mix of foreign terrorists soon blended with the armed opposition, joining the fight against the Syrian government.