US continues to work with Kurdish YPG in Syria despite Turkey’s concerns

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Kurdish fighters of the YPG and YPJ bidding farewell to a comrade killed during clashes with jihadists in Aleppo countryside. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

A US official confirmed that although they recognize Turkey’s concerns over Kurdish forces in Syria, they will continue to work with the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Reportedly, US Senator McCain is worried that US alignment with the Kurdish YPG would lead to problems with Turkey.

“Well, we certainly respect Senator McCain’s opinion. Obviously, he’s a very experienced senator and he has broad knowledge of global affairs, including Syria,” said Mark C. Toner, Acting State Department Spokesperson.

“I think we’ve been clear in acknowledging that it’s a very complex battle space in northern Syria. We have chosen to work with the YPG as a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include Syrian Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs; so a diverse group of ethnicities in order to go after, destroy ISIS,” he said.

“We’re in common cause in going after ISIS, as is Turkey. Turkey also realizes the threat they face from ISIS,” he added.

Nevertheless, Toner said that the US recognizes Turkish concerns on the YPG. “But we also recognize Turkey’s concerns with respect to the YPG, and that’s why we’ve set out very clear ground rules about YPG’s role,” the Acting State Department Spokesperson stated.

“We’ve conveyed that both to Turkey and to the YPG forces who are fighting on the ground. And we would urge and continue to urge all parties operating in that space to work and maintain pressure on ISIS. That’s the goal here,” he said.

“Everyone agrees that ISIS needs to be destroyed and dismantled and can never again reestablish itself. So we need to keep our focus on that goal. But we also do that mindful of the fact of Turkey’s concerns with respect to the YPG, and we’re working with Turkey. Those are discussions that are ongoing,” Toner stressed.

The US official also added that they are concerned about the situation around the Yezidi district of Sinjar [Shingal] in northern Iraq and that they are holding talks with local actors after 7 Kurdish fighters were killed in clashes between fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“There’re discussions ongoing between the Government of Iraq and the KRG generally about building stability in those areas and those regions that hug the Syrian border that have been liberated from ISIS,” he said.

“Those discussions are ongoing. We’re also having those discussions with those two groups because we recognize there’re tensions in the area. And again, part of the success is once we’ve liberated an area from ISIS is how do we establish control, local governance, stability back in these regions? And that’s certainly something we’re focused on,” Toner concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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