Turkey urges US to stop backing Kurdish YPG in Syria

A spokesman for Turkey’s President said that Kurdish fighters were using US-supplied weapons against Turkish troops trying to oust them from the Afrin region

Turkey has urged the US to stop backing the Kurdish YPG in Syria, as it steps up an offensive against the militia.

A spokesman for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Kurdish fighters were using US-supplied weapons against Turkish troops trying to oust them from the Afrin region.

Turkey considers the militia a terrorist group, and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which wants Kurdish autonomy within Turkey.

The UN Security Council discussed Turkey's growing offensive in a meeting on Monday, but did not condemn it.

Ankara is now demanding an end to the US alliance with the YPG, arguing that the fight against IS is over.

"We cannot tolerate the PKK establishing some kind of a state structure along our border in Syria," warned presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

The United States expressed concern over Turkey’s offensive, and top officials are appealing for restraint and fears that the conflict could spread.

At Monday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. understands Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns” and is “committed to working with Turkey as a NATO ally.”

“Increased violence in Afrin disrupts a relatively stable area of Syria," she said. "It distracts from international efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, it could be exploited by ISIS and al-Qaida for resupply and safe haven, and it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.”

The militia, which controls much of north-eastern Syria, has been a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State (IS) fighters there.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his country was willing to work with Turkey to address its "legitimate" security concerns in northern Syria.

He said the US recognised Turkey's right to defend itself from terrorist elements, and had proposed measures to try to stabilise the situation.

France's UN Ambassador François Delattre said Afrin "was of course part of the conversation" at the closed-door talks in New York.

"The call for restraint, I believe, was widely shared during the discussion," he added.

The Syrian government, its ally Iran and Egypt have all condemned Turkey's offensive.

Western powers, including the UK and France, have urged restraint in order to avoid civilian casualties.

On Tuesday, Tillerson will be meeting senior French officials to discuss a range of issues, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the threat from North Korea, and Ukraine. He will also attend the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons.

Thousands of civilians are reportedly trying to flee Afrin, and Syrian activists say more than 70 people have died since the Turkish push began on Saturday.On Monday, the Afrin villages of Shankal, Qorne, Bali and Adah Manli were reportedly captured, along with rural areas including Kita, Kordo and Bibno, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

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