‘Cooperation with Kurds an obligation’ US tells Turkish Prime Minister

People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters in northern Syria.

The United States has informed the Turkish authorities about the start of an operation to liberate Syria’s Raqqa from the Islamic State (IS) in cooperation with Syrian Kurdish forces, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Sunday.

According to Yildirim, the US-backed operation in coordination with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military branch of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), started on 2 June and Turkey had been informed about the operation before it started.

“They [the United States] told us that it was not an option but an obligation [to cooperate with PYD and YPG in the Raqqa operation] and that the tactical cooperation with them would not be maintained for long after the [Raqqa] operation,” Yildirim told reporters in Ankara, as quoted by the Anadolu Agency.

According to the prime minister, Turkey disapproves the US way of going about the operation, but Washington reassured Ankara that US weapons used by the Kurds would not threaten Turkey’s security.

On Friday, the YPG said Kurdish forces would start advancing on Raqqa within days.

On 9 May, the US Defense Department announced that President Donald Trump had approved a plan to arm Kurdish YPG in order to better fight against terrorism in Syria despite objections from Turkey.

Ankara considers the YPG to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

However, the PYD and the YPG, as well as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been receiving support from the United States in fighting Islamic State in Syria.

In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington and held talks with Trump, during which the two sides discussed the Kurdish issue among other topics.