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At NATO Meeting, Turkish Defense Chief Challenges U.S. Creating Kurdish Army in Syria

Jan. 16, 2018 (EIRNS)—Gen. Hulsi Akar, Turkish Chief of the General Staff, told a meeting of NATO defense chiefs in Brussels today, that Turkey will not allow the arming of the Kurdish PYD/YPG in Syria, as Turkey regards the PYD/YPG as an extension of the terrorist PKK inside Turkey.

“We cannot and will not allow the terrorist organization, YPG, which has been proven as an extension of the PKK, to be supported and armed under the guise of it being an ‘operational partner,’ ”

he said, reports the Turkish Anadolu Agency.

Akar’s remarks followed the announcement from the U.S. military command in Baghdad over the weekend, that the U.S. is going to organize and train a “Border Security Force” in northeastern Syria. About half of the projected 30,000-strong force is to come from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated force that the U.S. organized to fight ISIS. “We expect [them] to reverse the mistake as soon as possible,” Akar said. He added that NATO should not “discriminate” among terrorist organizations in the fight against terrorism.

In Washington, the U.S. has recognized Turkey’s concerns. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Anadolu today,

“We acknowledge Turkey’s concerns regarding these [Border] Security Forces being trained. We have regular close communication with our NATO ally Turkey.”

Akar was expected to meet with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford on the sidelines of the defense chiefs meeting. Turkish media expect Akar to raise the issue.

Prior to Akar’s arrival in Brussels, top Turkish government officials were essentially vowing to destroy the border force, despite the fact that it is backed by the U.S., said Ankara Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu yesterday: “The U.S. must clarify which side it is on, whether it chooses to be with its allies or terror groups?” He warned that

“We will take our own measures [against terror groups]. Regardless of who backs them; whether it is the U.S. or other countries, it doesn’t matter to us.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was even more blunt. He said,

“America has acknowledged it is in the process of creating a terror army on our border. What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud,”

reported Anadolu. He warned Turkey’s allies against helping what he called terrorists in Syria, and saying, “We won’t be responsible for the consequences.” Reuters quoted him as saying (probably from the same speech): “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States. “What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”