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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu © Logom

Turkey says ‘pro-Kurd’ US envoy should leave

18/05/17Defence

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has accused a senior US diplomat of supporting Kurdish militants and said he should be sent home.

He said Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the coalition against so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS), was “definitely” supporting the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the PKK, which has been fighting inside Turkey since the 1980s. However, last week the Pentagon said it was directly arming YPG fighters as they moved towards IS’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

Çavuşoğlu was in Washington with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met with US President Donald Trump.

On his return to Ankara Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had been assured that after the operation in Raqqa, territory seized from the jihadists would be handed back to the local Arab population. However, he said McGurk was openly supporting the Kurds and “it would be beneficial” if the US special envoy left.

Erdoğan told Turkish media in Washington that he had informed Trump that Turkey would react “without asking anyone” if it came under attack from the Syrian Kurds.

Çavuşoğlu also took aim at Germany, after it said it would start considering alternatives to using the Incirlik airbase, which is being used by the international coalition as a launchpad for anti-IS air raids.

The minister said Germany was free to move its troops if it wanted to. “We are not going to beg,” he said. “They were the ones who wanted to come and we helped them.”

Pan European Networks Ltd